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Christopher Mims

A View from Christopher Mims

World's Largest Modular Data Center Replaces Old New York Times Printing Plant

The 830,000 square foot building in Edison, New Jersey is being re-appropriated for the post-print age

  • April 13, 2011

The irony is rich: Phoenix-based i/o Data Centers has taken over a printing plant once owned by the New York Times, turning it into the world’s largest modular data center, suitable for anything from serving web pages to running private cloud computing environments. The formerly state of the art plant was built in 1992, a year after HTML and the web were invented but remained relatively unknown. It was an era when newspapers were cash machines and some towns had two. The plant was decommissioned in 2008.

When the new economy eats the old, infrastructure is put to creative re-use

The facility has its own electrical substation, with 30 megawatts of dedicated power, expandable up to 100 megawatts. i/o Data Centers says it already has enterprise clients lined up, and that its brand new Edison, NJ facility is available for everything from colocation to private clouds.

It’s not the biggest data center in the world, however. (It’s merely the largest modular one, which means it’s comprised of drop-in modules of the sort last seen in Google’s data centers.)

While it’s not clear how much of the facility is given over to servers, the 1.4 million square foot Tokyo data center handily bests the New Jersey facility in terms of sheer mass. Images of it taken from space speak for themselves:

Satellite view of the 1.4 million square foot Tokyo Data Center

For the largest data center in the U.S., you’d have to journey to Chicago, where the fortress-like Lakeside Technology center towers near the body of water from which it draws its name. It’s a strangely brick-and-mortar, vaguely art deco building, as data centers go, and no wonder: it too, used to house the printing plant for, among other things, the Sears Catalog.

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