Curious Planeteer working to make the Earth's changes visible, accessible and actionable.

A Warm Backup in a Cool Place


From our founding, Planet Labs has been designed to be a resilient company. Our entire approach to agile aerospace, from the engineering of our satellites to the diversity of our launch partners, helps ensure high reliability and redundancy of our products and services.
Our latest step has been an exciting new partnership with the Icelandic arm of Advania, one of the Nordic countries’ leading IT companies.

Iceland famously generates vast amounts of ultra-green electricity – about seventeen terawatt hours’ worth every year. Twenty five percent of this capacity is geothermal in origin, and the rest comes from hydrothermal, making Iceland’s one of the cleanest economies in the world – indeed, but for a few gasoline-powered cars on the road, the country is completely carbon-free.

Many new industries have been enabled by this energy abundance – among most prominent are “green” data centers. It’s easy to see their appeal: in Iceland, data centers are cleaner to power, cheaper to run, and easier to cool — a triple win. For applications where cost and computing trump ultra-low-latency connectivity, Iceland is ideal.

Building on Icelandic President Olafur Grimsson’s tour of Planet Labs last year, Robbie Schingler and Andrew Zolli traveled to the country at the end of 2014 to explore various partnerships in Iceland, and to speak at the Arctic Circle – a summit of countries with an interest in the region. After getting a sense of the local capacity, Robbie and Andrew initiated discussions with Advania and a related company called GreenQloud, a maker of cloud infrastructure software.

Advania’s Mjölnir Data Center, named for Thor’s hammer

This year, Planet Labs will be creating a “warm” backup our data at Advania’s Thor Data Center, which uses GreenQloud’s platform. Beyond the redundancy that this partnership enables, Iceland is attractive for another reason: it is working toward a regime of strong governmental protections for data that many hope will make it a “Switzerland of Data”. That in turn, is bringing many new customers to this remarkable country, driving further efficiencies. And it’s helping companies like ours ensure that our data will be available to the world no matter what.