AWS News Blog

120 Uses for Your Empty Data Center

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It is big. It is cold. It is secure. And now it is empty, because you have gone all-in to the AWS Cloud. So, what do you do with your data center? Once the pride and joy of your IT staff, it is now a stark, expensive reminder that the world has changed.

Many AWS customers are migrating from their existing on-premises data centers to AWS. Here are just a few of their stories (links go to case studies, blog posts, and videos from re:Invent):

  • Delaware North – This peanut and popcorn vendor reduced their server footprint by more than 90% and expects to save over $3.5 million in IT acquisition and maintenance costs over five years by using AWS.
  • Seaco – This global sea-container leasing company implemented the SAP Business Suite on AWS and reduced latency by more than 90%.
  • Kaplan – This education and test prep company moved a set of development, test, staging, and production environments that once spanned 12 separate data centers to AWS, eliminating 8 of the 12 in the process.
  • Talen Energy – As part of a divestiture, this nuclear power company decided to move to AWS and found that they were able to focus more of their energy on their core business.
  • Condé Nast – This well-known publisher migrated over 500 servers and 1 petabyte of storage to AWS and went all-in.
  • Hearst Corporation – This diversified communications company migrated 10 of their 29 data centers to AWS.
  • University of Notre Dame – This university has already migrated its web site to AWS and plans to move 80% of the remaining workloads in the next three years.
  • Capital One – This finance company has made AWS a central part of its technology strategy.
  • General Electric – This diversified company is migrating more than 9,000 workloads to AWS, while closing 30 out of 34 data centers.

If you are curious, here’s what happens when a data center closes down:

Now What?
You may be wondering what you are supposed to do with all of that cold, empty space after your migration!

With generous contributions from my colleagues (they did 85% of the work), I have compiled a list of 120 possible uses for your data center. For your reading pleasure, I have arranged them by category. As you can see, my colleagues are incredibly imaginative! There is some overlap here, but I didn’t want to play favorites. So, here you go…

Sports and Recreation

  1. Ice hockey rink.
  2. Whirlyball arena.
  3. Go-kart track.
  4. Snowshoe practice area.
  5. Laser tag.
  6. Paintball arena.
  7. Sweat lodge.
  8. Hot yoga studio.
  9. Immersive VR gaming arena.
  10. Largest paper football game. Ever.
  11. Portal arena.
  12. Paint walls black. Turn off lights. Dress in black. Water balloon fight with fluorescent paint.
  13. Extreme weather survival training.
  14. Giant domino rally.
  15. Venue for world’s longest paper airplane flight.
  16. live video game championship arenas.
  17. Bubble football arena.
  18. World’s largest ball pit.
  19. Ultimate LAN party room.
  20. Indoor lazy river.
  21. Indoor ski resort.
  22. Shooting range.
  23. All weather theme park – “Datacenter Land.”
  24. Segway racing track.
  25. Indoor surf park.
  26. Massive spinning studio.
  27. Create the World Trampoline Wallyball League (WTWL).
  28. Ultimate Boda Borg quest challenge.
  29. Indoor hang gliding wind tunnel.
  30. 48 state of the art gyms.
  31. Indoor dog park.
  32. Zamboni driver training facility.

Food and Beverages

  1. A large, cold area is perfect for growing and preserving food.
  2. Meat locker / meat packing facility.
  3. Popsicle factory.
  4. Wine cellar.
  5. Penguin sanctuary.
  6. Mushroom farm.
  7. Cheese grotto.
  8. Practice area for growing potatoes on Mars.
  9. World’s largest Easy Bake Oven.

Eminently Practical

  1. Classroom.
  2. Electric car charging station.
  3. Storm shelter.
  4. Drone zone.
  5. Giant pencil case.
  6. Bomb shelter.
  7. Car wash.
  8. Community theater.
  9. Art gallery.
  10. Secure storage for all the money saved by using AWS.
  11. Cloud University.
  12. Solar power generation plant.
  13. 48 really large Airbnb opportunities.
  14. Maker‘s den.

Space, the Final Frontier

  1. Blimp Hanger with “Moffett Field, You Got Nothing on Me!” painted on the side.
  2. UFO storage.
  3. Fill with water and use as a NASA zero-gravity training facility.
  4. Time portal for the Restaurant at the end of the Internet.
  5. Blue Origin space terminal with interplanetary duty free zone.
  6. Use racks as studio apartments in San Francisco. Rent at $5000/month.

Dead or Alive

  1. Homeless shelter.
  2. Orphanage / charity home.
  3. Morgue.
  4. Cryogenic human storage.
  5. Zombie apocalypse refuge.
  6. Cold therapy spa.
  7. Rehabilitation center.
  8. Snowman preservation facility.

Just Plain Weird

  1. Unicorn farm.
  2. Mattress testing facility.
  3. Biohazard isolation area.
  4. Stress-relief shattering emporium.
  5. Grow operation (where permitted by law).
  6. Military parade ground.
  7. Venue for all 2016 US presidential debates.
  8. Super ball testing facility.
  9. Corporate meditation center.
  10. Duck echo testing facility.
  11. Automated paper making factory for paper towels and toilet paper.
  12. Tour facility for worlds largest ball of Ethernet or fiber optic cable.
  13. Robot cat toy factory for Ethernet / fiber cable yarn balls.
  14. Storage for recently unearthed E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial game cartridges.
  15. Giant sensory deprivation tank.
  16. Biosphere 3.
  17. “Can you hear me now?” test facility.

TV and Movies

  1. Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good.
  2. Battle of Hoth reenactment.
  3. Trash compactor where we can put people who reveal Star Wars spoilers.
  4. American Gladiator or American Ninja Warrior arena.
  5. Hangar for Death Star.
  6. Fill it with water. Re-enact Finding Nemo.
  7. Take old printers and re-enact scene from Office Space. Call it a Silent Meditation Retreat.
  8. Erect transparent aluminum walls, fill with water, store whales for when aliens come to contact them.
  9. Raiders of the Lost Ark warehouse.
  10. Training center for the Knights of Ren.
  11. Mythbusters science lab.
  12. Top Gear secret race track.
  13. Mad Max: Server Room Rampage.
  14. High security storage facility for broken down Daleks.
  15. Tardis repair center for all things wibley wobley or timey wimey.

Uniquely Amazonian

  1. Venue for next re:Play party.
  2. Amazon fulfillment center.
  3. Alternate venue for re:Invent 2017.
  4. AWS Snowball processing facility.
  5. Amazon Fresh greeenhouse.
  6. Brewery for the Amazon Simple Beer Service.
  7. Amazon Locker site.
  8. Actual cloud storage (leave the A/C on and pipe in some steam).

It’s Dead, Jim

  1. Electronics shredding center.
  2. Warehouse used to refurbish decommissioned corporate computers/servers to deploy to underprivileged schools world wide for education.
  3. Venue to host auction for empty data centers.
  4. Server to host the auction website for empty data centers.
  5. Museum of data center history.
  6. “Co-location Data Center” – National Trust for Historic Preservation.
  7. Outreach centers for all those IT Admins that claimed they would never go all-in in the cloud.
  8. Retro-style storage for paper files.
  9. Data center resort with gardens grown on servers.
  10. Buggy whip factory.
  11. Museum of technology history.



PS – Please feel free to leave suggestions for additional uses in the comments.

Modified 11/03/2020 – In an effort to ensure a great experience, expired links in this post have been updated or removed from the original post.
Jeff Barr

Jeff Barr

Jeff Barr is Chief Evangelist for AWS. He started this blog in 2004 and has been writing posts just about non-stop ever since.