Work is underway to expand Bluebird Network's underground data center in Springfield, Missouri, for a second time.

The project will provide more than 11,500 sq ft (1,000 sq m) of room, bringing the total size of the facility’s white space to 29,000 sq ft (2,700 sq m). The company says the works will establish the facility, known as Bluebird Underground, as a Tier III site.

Aside from almost doubling the facility's overall space, the works also include developing its on-site generating capabilities to 6MW, installing a third primary metered electrical grid connection, dual uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system, and the implementation of a DCIM system to monitor operations. The project also includes diversifying its critical power pathing, generation to customer power tails, and quadrupling the fuel storage capacity.

The improvements, Bluebird says, will allow it to keep up with competitors in cloud computing, hosting, AI, and blockchain. The expansion is expected to be completed in mid-2020.

“Bluebird Network is proud to provide this additional data center space and capacity, perfectly aligned with the business and hosting community,” said Michael Morey, CEO of Bluebird Network.

“This data center was purposefully built for the convenience of business communities in the region.”

Outside Bluebird Underground.JPG
– Schneider Electric

Deep blue... ground?

The Bluebird Underground site was acquired by the company in 2015, which quickly got to work on expanding the facility.

The data center is buried 85ft below the surface in an old limestone mine, and was expanded in three phases by Schneider Electric’s data center service provider team, which added Schneider’s Uniflair cooling and RPP (remote power panel) modular power system.

Underground data centers have unique requirements compared with above-ground buildings.

Todd Murren, GM for Bluebird Underground, said the challenges for a subterranean facility included the mine’s irregular surfaces and the lack of GPS location but added that the drawbacks are outweighed by the benefits.

“The thing most above-ground data centers have no control over is the weather - their natural and unnatural environment. Here, that’s not a concern.”

Bluebird has to spread its wings

In September, Bluebird Network was acquired by Macquarie Infrastructure Partners (MIP), providing the network carrier with access to 2,500 fiber route miles in Illinois.

Future network builds are planned to connect more areas in the Midwest and achieve greater fiber densification.

“We are pleased to expand Macquarie Infrastructure Partners’ communications infrastructure portfolio with the acquisition of Bluebird,” said Karl Kuchel, CEO of MIP. “We look forward to working with Bluebird’s experienced management team to grow the company’s network and services in the years ahead.”