Doing the Vatican racks

Yes, the Vatican uses datacenters. More than one, in fact.

“Take whatever steps you want, if you’ve cleared them with the Pontiff’ – with apologies to Tom Lehrer

Even though I know shouldn’t be surprised, I always am when an organization with a reputation for being incredibly conservative talks about an interesting use of technology. So an announcement about a new datacenter going in at the Vatican definitely caught my attention. And in that case, I really shouldn’t have been surprised.

After all, the Vatican and the Vatican City-State have had websites for almost 20 years. And it was more than 7 years ago when they updated the Vatican datacenter with raised floors and improved environmental controls. So the fact that they implemented a special purpose datacenter for a specific project just shows that despite the stodgy reputation, the use of cutting edge technology is well within their grasp.

With a mandate to digitize the 40,000,000 manuscript pages in the oldest library in the world, the Vatican Apostolic Library has contracted with Rittal-UK to provide a temporary datacenter for the four year project. Installed adjacent to the library, the Rittal modular installation will consist of four 8 rack sections with liquid cooling, real-time monitoring, and UPS systems. Inline climate control systems have also been specified to manage the cooling and environmental concerns that could be problematical when installing a modular design of this nature in an existing facility, especially one as space constrained and venerable as the Apostolic Library.

Digitized documents have been appearing on-line since January of this year. These are documents that were once only available to accredited scholars and the like, and are now being made available to anyone with an internet connection.