Where data center meets the cloud

6 07 2009

I’ve seen lots of data centers. Big ones, small ones, pod-designs, diesel-powered, environmentally controlled. But I can’t say I’ve ever seen a data center like the one I encountered this week in Bermuda. We had climbed seven flights of winding stairs inside Gibbs Lighthouse – with only one flight to go – when we ran across a miniature data center about 100 feet above ground. It’s the data center that keeps the Gibbs lantern shining, so ships know they’re close to the lovely yet treacherous Bermuda shores.
185 Winding StepsThe Tiny Data CenterThe Huge Lantern

Here’s what I learned from the placards inside the lighthouse: From it’s start in 1846, the Gibbs lighthouse keeper wound a 1200 pound weight by hand every 30 minutes to revolve the lighthouse lens. The lantern itself was originally kerosene. In 1964 electrical equipment was installed, and today the whole lighthouse process works automatically: computers maintain the light, and the APC equipment and a diesel generator make sure it keeps shining even during terrible storms that bring power outages. Which is pretty important given that 39 ships were wrecked off the Western end of Bermuda in the decade before the lighthouse was constructed. Now that’s a mission-critical data center!

Additionally the lighthouse stands on a hill that is 245 feet, and the lighthouse itself is 117 feet tall, which is why it can be seen from 40 miles away. And I can personally attest to the fact that most of Bermuda can be seen from the top of the lighthouse. Gibbs Lighthouse – where data center truly meets the cloud.
My view from top, facing west




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