In Boyers, Pa., a recently opened 2,000-sq.-ft. data center has been purpose-built to protect against an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), either generated by a solar storm or a nuclear event.
The company that built the facility isn’t disclosing exactly how the data center was constructed or what materials were used. But broadly, it did say that the structure has an inner skin and an outer skin that use a combination of thicknesses and metals to provide EMP protection.
There are other data centers that protect against electromagnetic pulses, which can be generated by solar storms or high-altitude nuclear blasts. Underground data centers, in particular, advertise this capability. And some vendors offer containers and cabinets that shield IT equipment from EMPs, which can fry circuits.
But there’s been little discussion, overall, about whether EMP protection should be a standard risk mitigation feature in data centers.
The two solar storms that began arriving Thursday night aren’t strong enough to hurt electronics on the ground, though they could disrupt GPS and radio communications. More than anything, they’re a reminder of a risk that is the subject of steady warnings but isn’t immediate enough to spur people to do much about it — though it is real enough to inspire visions of apocalyptic scenarios among Washington policy makers.