CIO Dive: Technobabble: Data centers on the edge of the world

By Naomi Eide

Unless tech companies find a way to further compress data, storage providers will have to work hard to keep with the demand. Seven of the 10 largest data centers call the U.S. home. Wales, India and China cinched the other three spots, according to Rack Solutions.

The #2 placeholder right now — a center in Lanfang, China coming in at a whopping 6.3 million square feet — is set for a demotion to the #3 spot to a surprising location: the Arctic Circle.

Kolos, an American-Norwegian data company, has raised several million dollars from private investors to build a one-gigawatt data center in Ballangen, Norway. The new data center would start drawing on 70 MW of power and move up to 1,000 MW within 10 years — a feat that would put the company on par with Amazon’s data center in Ashburn, Virginia.

Besides a stunning view of the Northern Lights, Ballangen offers a few key advantages for Kolos. It boasts the lowest power cost in Europe, 100% renewable energy and unlimited supplies of cold water to chill hardware.

If you think exotic ice plateaus where your data has polar bears for company isn’t exciting enough, other companies like Cloud Constellation have also rethought data storage. In March, the startup was awarded the patent for a global communications platform and secure storage place at low orbit. The company plans to make data storage in space a reality by 2019.

If their vision pans out, space-based data centers could offer petabytes of data storage and transition times under a second. No word yet on the potential cybersecurity measures from terrestrial-bound hackers.

The size and security benefits of both data center options could not be coming at a better time. As more companies move toward cloud computing and Big Data, storage providers have the difficult task of figuring out where to put it all.

By 2025, humankind is predicted to create 163 zettabytes of data in a given year, according to research group IDG. That’s the equivalent of 1.8 trillion new Kolos data centers.

And you thought managing your smartphone storage was hard.