Building a Bigger, Greener Bunker

The entrance to an ultra-secure data center operated by The Bunker in Kent, UK.

The entrance to an ultra-secure data center operated by The Bunker in Kent, UK.

The Bunker in Kent, UK has been one of the success stories in the niche market for ultra-secure “military grade” data centers housed in nuke-proof subterranean fortresses. Many data bunkers have an abundance of security features, but The Bunker also has an abundance of customers.

The Bunker, which has hosted clients in underground facilities since 1994, is now expanding with a 12,000 square meter (130,000 square foot) data center on its existing campus in Sandwich, Kent.

The Bunker Secure Hosting Ltd. received final planning permission this week for The Bunker 2, which will offer hosting and disaster recovery services from the N+1 facility. As with the company’s two existing data centers, The Bunker 2 offers space for companies that need to be in the London market but are wary of the risk of disaster or terrorism. The design for the new facility will focus on energy efficiency, typically a secondary concern for ultra-secure data storage facilities.

The new data center “will provide a highly secure, low risk Internet hub outside of London to service clients who wish to house internet-connected systems in the UK, without being reliant on high risk London zones,” said Peregrine Newton, CEO of The Bunker.

The Bunker’s two existing data centers are housed in former Ministry of Defence nuclear bunkers in Kent and Newbury that were initially built to house the UK’s air defense system. Both are outside the M25, the major perimeter highway serving London and a key geographic boundary for companies seeking data center space that would remain operational through a regional disaster affecting central London.

Concrete Walls and Blast Doors
The Bunker’s security features include three-meter thick concrete walls, blast doors and Faraday cages to protect servers from electromagnetic pulses that can accompany nuclear explosions. That muscular security infrastructure has attracted more than 130 clients, including financial services conpanies and other customers with regulatory data protection requirements.

While security is typically the key attraction for data bunkers, the company says the design for The Bunker 2 will emphasize energy efficiency and aims to achieve a high BREEAM rating – short for BRE Environmental Assessment Method, the UK equivalent of the LEED standard for green buildings in the U.S. The building will use a low modular design with facilities cut into the surrounding landscape and featuring grass roofs. Plans call for six modules that are each 2,200 square meters (about 24,000 square feet).

Inaudible, Invisible and Green
“Our design brief was to create a facility that was inaudible, invisible and green.” said Simon Neal, director of data center services for The Bunker 2. “Sustainability was a key factor in the design of The Bunker 2 and the materials used and construction techniques will reflect this.”

This brief video provides an overview of some of the physical infrastructure in place at The Bunker’s data center in Kent. It runs about 1 minute, 30 seconds.

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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. Mike Woodley

    Would this be the same Bunker Secure Hosting facility that does not in fact have resilient power as evidenced by the total power outage suffered 10 days ago when all customers were down for up to eight hours, many losing equipment on reboot due to the graceless power down? Many more suffered repeated down time during testing of the supposed back-up system owing to the lack of UPS feeds to their equipment that they had paid to be installed. My organisation suffered repeated outages and some data disks were lost. And this is disaster recovery. God help us.