NSA Plans $1.6 Billion Utah Data Center

The National Security Agency is planning to build a massive data center at Fort Williams in Utah, which could eventually include more than 1 million square feet of data center space, reports the Salt Lake Tribune.

The first phase of the project will feature an $800 million investment in a 35-megawatt data center, with a second $800 million, 35-megawatt phase to follow. The initial phase is currently in the design stage, with construction scheduled to begin in June 2010 and be completed by March 2013, according to documents (link via Mark Fontecchio). Project specs call for a Tier III raised-floor facility.

The Utah project was enabled by a new funding bill signed last week by President Obama, which also provides money for an expansion of the power infrastructure at Fort Meade, Maryland where the NSA’s primary data center is located. The NSA’s operations at Fort Meade have reportedly been power-strapped since 2006, when the agency maxed out the electric capacity of the Baltimore Gas & Electric power grid.

The NSA facility will be the third huge data center to be built in Utah, which has prevailed in several of the most competitive data center projects in the Western U.S. In May 2008 Oracle Corp. (ORCL) said it would build a $285 million data center in West Jordan. In December West Jordan was also selected as the site for a $334 million eBay data center.

Between them, the three projects represent more than $2.2 billion in data center investment in the state of Utah.

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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.

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  1. JayDee

    Of course the fact that this center is to be located in the middle of the continental US might give some pause, seeing as how they will be tapping into all the INTERNAL communications there, not just the overseas ones they are legally authorized to be monitoring. And the juxtaposition of this facility with the other two mentioned in the article is interesting, wouldn't you say? I for one find the government's assurances that non-terrorism-related information is not being retained by NSA somewhat hard to swallow. Espacially in light of the fact that they are busy building the biggest data storage facility known to man. Besides, we've heard that line before: "Social Security numbers will NEVER be used for anything other than identification for SSA purposes". Or the ever popular "No internal communications are being monitored in this program, only overseas calls." Sure, they're not MONITORED, just RECORDED en masse until they can find another use for them at some later date. Easy to see that one coming: "IRS to sweep NSA files for evidence of tax cheaters", or "INS to examine NSA files for information on aliens in the US", or - well, you get the idea. Once they HAVE the data, I guarantee you they will invent new and creative ways to mine it. Kiss any privacy you had left goodbye forever.

  2. Neo

    I don't think that their collection of massive amounts of data is necessarily "bad", I mean it is inevitable, n'est pas? Despite how much we think that the NSA is just some evil secret society I really think it does a lot of good. We can only fathom how many threats are constantly apparent in the US (I imagine it is a lot). I am just glad that our country is doing something about it and not sitting on their butts doing nothing. I probably have this weird bias towards them because I want to work for them some day...so you are probably right in some aspects, but I just wanted to clarify that they still do a lot for this country that no one recognizes. I promise that if I work for them I will do my best to protect this country and make it a better place! :)

  3. Herb

    That place is going to be five minutes from where I live. What troubles me is not the facility but the fact that the people who worrk there will be living all around us. I will be in line at the grocery store and will be nervous about talking to my wife about anything controversial. Who knows what that lady behind us is listening for.

  4. Ellen

    The information will be good in the hands of good people...in the hands of unscrupulous people???? Not so good!!!!

  5. Bob Walsh

    Herb, You should not worry. Your neighbots will blend in fine and suprising law abiding citizens. You want to be worried live in downtown Baltimore or DC

  6. The NSA spies on everyone, and, of course, will be spying on the good people of Utah. George Orwell saw this coming in the 1940s; see his novel "1984." The rights that once separated Americans from the citizens of other nations are quickly going the way of the dinosaur. The enemies of the Constitution are shifting to internal ones, i.e., the U.S. government. The outside threats are quite amateurish by comparison.

  7. Paul

    The latest book by Brad Thor, Black List (admittedly fiction, but very well researched and referenced) speaks about an independent company that runs amouk by storing absolutely everything about U.S. citizens. His end-of-book non-fiction references that you can find on his website indicate that this isn't that far fetched. Very scary! Government, local and feds are already installing cameras in busy cities, license plate readers on police cars, sophisticated software to search emails and file transmissions. They've already broken pretty much all the encryption algorithms. We're way past 1984 and there's much more they aren't telling us. This Utah data center is mentioned in the book.