NSA Begins Construction of Massive Utah Data Center

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Utah Data Center
DHS Project 12 Report: Critical Infrastructure Public-Private Partnerships

Utah Data Center site layout from a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers brief.

Utah’s NSA spy center will house data, not analysts (KSL 5 News):

Computers drawing enough electricity to power a small city will soon fill a National Security Agency data center on a 240-acre site where officials officially broke ground on Thursday.

But that does not mean Utah is about to see a significant influx of NSA analysts who would not be able to tell their neighbors what they do for a living. Most of the long-term staff at the NSA’s Utah Data Center will have technical jobs, keeping the machines in the 100,000 square feet of computer space working — that within a complex that will include 1 million square feet of enclosed space.

Building the mammoth computer center will bring 5,000 to 10,000 much-needed construction jobs through the time the center is finished in 2013. Long term, the staff will be comprised of 100 to 200 information technology specialists and mechanical and electrical engineers, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said at the groundbreaking.

Specifics of the work those engineers will do is not being discussed. But Harvey Davis, the NSA’s associate director for installations and architect of the overall concept of the Utah Data Center, said the machines that will live in Utah are the essence of the NSA’s work.

“This business is technologically dependent,” he said, adding that Utah “is a very reliable site for us.”

The NSA said the data center is a component of the Comprehensive National Cyber-security Initiative “aimed at securing the United States’ information infrastructure and coordinating its defense with state and local governments, as well as the private sector.” The data center’s mission is to help the intelligence community meet cyber-security objectives.

“The threat posed by computer hackers is very big, and it is growing,” Hatch said. “That is why this data center is so important.”

The computer farm that will overlook both Utah and Salt Lake counties from a site just west of Redwood Road is an essential link in the nation’s cyberspace security initiative, said NSA Deputy Director J. Chris Inglis. The Utah Data Center adds physical diversity to the NSA’s computing power without splitting up the intelligence community working at Fort Meade, Maryland.

Data security center in Utah targets cyberspace (Reuters):

Officials tout the data center mission as providing technical assistance to the Department of Homeland Security, provide intelligence and warning to cyber threats and carry out cyber-security objectives.

“Just as we defend our lands, America also needs to defend cyberspace,” Hatch said. “The Data Center will be part of our expanding efforts to defend our Department of Defense computer systems from cyber attack, and will play key role in helping Homeland Security keep our government’s civilian computer systems safe.”

The new center will be built on a 240-acre site within the Camp Williams military compound. When completed in 2013 it will provide 100,000 square feet of computer space and one million square feet of total space.

The Utah site was picked over 37 other potential sites.

Hatch pointed to Utah’s higher education institutions, language facilities and the large number of people who speak multiple languages as selling points.

Officials estimate that up to 10,000 people will be employed in construction and development of the data center. Upon completion 100-200 people will be permanently employed at the center.

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