5 fascinating facts you probably didn't know about America's new $1.5 billion cyber-security center

Although this site is still arguably smaller than what Google or Amazon operate, it's going to be an important part of our national defense.
Written by David Gewirtz, Senior Contributing Editor

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers broke ground last week on what promises to be one of front lines in America's defense against cyber attack, Community Comprehensive National Cyber-security Initiative Data Center.

Gallery: Iconic secret government data centers in the movies

While much of what's going on at the Camp Williams, Utah construction site can't be discussed, there are some amazing details you might find interesting.

Fact #5: Thousands of new construction jobs, but only a few permanent jobs

While the facility will bring 5,000 to 10,000 new construction jobs to the Utah project, only about 100 to 200 permanent jobs will be created on-site. Those folks who make the cut to work at the data center, of course, could include ZDNet readers, so go ahead and dust off your resumes.

Fact #4: The facility will be big, a million square feet big

Even though the raised floor server room facilities will only be about 100,000 (only!) square feet, another 900,000 square feet has been allocated to administrative staff.

To give you a rough idea of how that compares, the Pentagon is about 6.6 million square feet and is one of the biggest buildings in the world. The new Utah Data Center will be about a sixth its size.

Put another way, it's about the size of 20 football fields.

Fact #3: It will be able to be self-sufficient

Data centers are often power hogs. Undoubtedly the Utah Data Center will also consume a tremendous amount of power. The big difference: the Community Comprehensive National Cyber-security Initiative Data Center will be able to generate all of its own power through backup generators.

According to the Army Corps of Engineers (PDF):

Support facilities include an electrical sub-station, a vehicle inspection facility and visitor control center, fuel storage, water storage, and chiller plant.

Fact #2: The facility will be environmentally friendly

The U.S. Green Building Council has developed a series of environmental rating levels that rate how green new buildings are. This certification system is called LEED, for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

There are different LEED ratings. Second from the bottom is LEED Silver, which is what the Utah Data Center is aiming for. Now, don't misinterpret LEED Silver as bad by any means. While the top LEED rating, Platinum, essentially means the building can essentially pass gas that can create a new Garden of Eden, any LEED rating is a far improvement over the environmental sustainability of most modern buildings.

So, for a data center of the size of the Utah Data Center to be LEED Silver is a big accomplishment -- if they actually earn the rating once the facility is built.

Fact #1: Information Redacted

Wow! The number one amazing fact is, in fact amazing. It's just sad that I can't share it with you. Sorry, some things have to remain secret and I'd have to have someone kill you if I told you.

That said, I can tell you what the National Security Council's The Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative says are the goals of the CNCI:

  • To establish a front line of defense against today’s immediate threats by creating or enhancing shared situational awareness of network vulnerabilities, threats, and events within the Federal Government—and ultimately with state, local, and tribal governments and private sector partners—and the ability to act quickly to reduce our current vulnerabilities and prevent intrusions.
  • To defend against the full spectrum of threats by enhancing U.S. counterintelligence capabilities and increasing the security of the supply chain for key information technologies.
  • To strengthen the future cybersecurity environment by expanding cyber education; coordinating and redirecting research and development efforts across the Federal Government; and working to define and develop strategies to deter hostile or malicious activity in cyberspace.

Stay tuned. Although this site is still arguably smaller than what Google or Amazon operate, it's going to be an important part of our national defense.

See also: Datacenter for the paranoid

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