Wikia Search Launches from Iowa Data Bunker

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Tomorrow’s launch of Wikia Search, the much anticipated search engine from the founders of Wikipedia, will be powered by servers housed in an ultra-secure underground hosting facility in Iowa. United States Secure Hosting Center (USSHC) is providing colocation and disaster recovery for Wikia, Inc. from its data bunker in Monticello, Iowa. Wikia is the most recent company to turn to ultra-secure subterranean facilities to host critical infrastructure.

Wikia Search is launching a people-powered search engine to compete with algorithm-based engines such as Google. Wikia’s goal is to provide fewer search results with “parked” pages and ad content. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and Angela Beesley launched Wikia in 2004 to provide hosted community-based wikis. On Dec. 23, Wales announced that Wikia Search would officially launch on Jan. 7. (UPDATE: The service is now live. See TechCrunch, CenterNetworks and TechMeme for early reviews).

USSHC’s data center is housed in a former government communications facility, and is “designed to survive and operate normally during a major disaster.” The facility is several stories underground and is hosting the core of the Wikia search system, according to Isaac Helgens, sales and marketing director for USSHC.

“USSHC is serving as our critical hub for this launch,” said Jeremie Miller of Wikia Search. “Their level of service and security is as unprecedented as the disaster tolerance of their facility itself.” Miller, who was hired by Wikia in May, is known as the developer of the Jabber instant messaging program, and is based in Iowa.


“We are very excited to host Wikia at our facility for their various projects,” stated Jerry Pasker, CEO of USSHC. “Our facility allows us to offer the best physical security available without breaking your budget. Companies that are looking for more than just commodity data center space expect a higher standard. We’re able to offer that peace of mind through our attention to detail and dedication to having the best systems and practices in place.”

Wikia also appears to be using content delivery network (CDN) services from Xeex, a business unit of NR Software, as well as services based at Ethr.Net in Los Angeles. Xeex is based in LA but has servers in data centers in 23 locations around the U.S. and operations in Asia and Eastern Europe.

USSHC says it offers fully redundant fiber connectivity and power infrastucture, and multiple onsite generators with secure fuel storage. On the security front, USSHC uses multiple levels of physical and biometric security, is the sole owner of the data center facilities and the land, and has complete control of all infrastructure and upgrades.

USSHC is among a growing number of providers offering underground ultra-secure hosting. Here are some other recent examples:

  • StrataSpace, a 500,000 square foot underground data center outsider Louisville, Kentucky.
  • The SpringNet Underground, as 56,000 square foot data center located 85 feet underground in a limestone cave near Springfield, Missouri.
  • Cavern Technologies, a 200,000 square foot facility near Kansas City that is 125 feet underground.
  • The Mountain Complex, a large facility built into the side of a dolomite mountain in the Ozarks near Branson, Missouri. The facility recently won a deal to house backup data for thousands of financial institutions.
  • The InfoBunker, a 65,000 square foot ultra-secure underground data center in Iowa, built in a decommissioned Air Force bunker.
  • The Montgomery Westland (The Westlin Bunker) provides 40,000 square feet of underground data center and office space in Lake Conroe, Texas, and recently announced plans to add 100,000 square feet of subterranean data center space.
  • The Bunker is a 10-year old ultra-secure colo facility built in a former nuclear bunker in Newbury, England.
  • Iron Mountain has a data center within its huge underground records storage facility near Pittsburgh, previously known as the National Underground.
  • Mountains West Exploration Inc. (MXWI) entered the data center business in November with the acquisition of Secured Digital Storage, and plans to develop former military ammunition bunkers as ultra-secure storage.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.