Data Center Light

A clean and sustainable data center


The Data Center Light is our radical different answer to challenges of the climate change and centralisation.

It is located in Linthal and is part of the Digital Glarus projects.

How Data Center Light came into existence

Originally ungleich used to be a Linux/Unix/network consultancy company. Over the years, more and more customers asking us whether we provide a space to store their data and to run their applications. Until the end of 2014 we politely declined and referred our customers to other data centers or hosting providers.

In 2015 however, we began to re-evaluate whether it is actually feasible to build a data center in Glarus.

The three components of a data center

If you consider to run a data center, there are three important factors:

  • space - where to put your servers?
  • power - how to power your equipment?
  • connectivity: how to be reachable from the Internet?

Our approach from the beginning was to avoid building new buildings, because there are many empty buildings from the spinning and weaving time here in Glarus.

After looking around a bit, we found a nice old house, the Digital Chalet, which we started to modernise immediately and prepare it for a data center prototype.!

The local power company, TBGS, a now long time partner, offered us to help to get proper power connections into the Digital Chalet.

And as luck turned out, TBGS was also able to provide us with a direct fiber line. Later we learned that this was actually not so much of an "accident", but something we could have seen coming:

The valley of Glarus was historically hosting spinning and weaving companies, most of which used to have their own power plant. The power plants are usually hydro power plants, supported by the river Linth. Nowadays, there are also some solar polar plants.

Even after the spinning and weaving companies closed, the hydro prower continue to run. As a grid provider, you need to measure the production capacity to compensate the producers correctly. TBGS did a smart move many, many years ago: instead of reading the data via a slow copper line, they were smart and added fiber lines directly to the power plants.

And this is the reason why we were easily able to also be connected to the fiber backbone.

The growth of Data Center Light

After our initial prototype in the Digital Chalet proved to be working, we expanded to a bigger area in Linthal, the Linthpark. This area hosts the historic building of the Spinnerei Linthal, which are also modernised and now provide us with space for running the Data Center Light.

Why is named Data Center Light?

The "light" refers to avoiding resource heavy and unsustainable components. We employ the following mechanisms to avoid wasting resources:

  • We only consume 100% renewable energy
  • We don't rebuild, but use existing buildings
  • We use modern, but used hardware where possible (not for disks/ssds though)
  • We don't cool our servers

How does a data center work without cooling?

Instead of using high density racks and putting them next to each other, we use the available space of the old factory buildings. Instead of hosting 40 servers on one square meter, we host one server on 4 square meters. We can do this, because factory halls tend to be huge. And in Glarus, they are also available.

Products based on Data Center Light

In the Data Center Light we offer

Our objective is to enable people world wide and locally. From easier working to giving safety to being able to store your data sustainable.