Thursday, December 23, 2010

Adams on the new headquarters complex

CSE Chief John Adams has given the Globe and Mail some more details on CSE's new headquarters complex (Colin Freeze, "Canada's little-known spy agency comes out into the open," Globe and Mail, 22 December 2010):
As envisioned, the seven-building CSEC complex will be the equivalent of a 90-storey skyscraper turned on its side – a highly secure compound outfitted with the latest high-tech gear. Two nearby electrical generating stations will power the agency’s computers, which suck in millions of conversations from around the world each day and scour them for intelligence information.

CSEC’s 1,700 staff and $300-million budget are double what they were a decade ago. Yet the agency’s bricks-and-mortar surroundings have been neglected. Some staff complain that a wall-sized mainframe computer has even fallen through an old floor. The current complex, a scattering of Cold War-era buildings near Carleton University, can no longer suck enough energy off the grid to sustain operations.

“We’ve run out of power,” said Mr. Adams, whose facilities use about as much energy as a small town. “We’ve got 700 people buried in a basement.”


Plenty more in the article, including a site plan for the new complex.

And this little tid-bit:
...Canadians need to understand how much raw data the spy agency handles – and how much more it’s going to have to handle in the future, Mr. Adams argues. He makes a case that the new complex in Ottawa’s East End is vital for national security.

Already, he said his staff process the informational equivalent of a WikiLeaks-sized data dump of State Department cables every day – or more transactions than all of Canada’s big banks combined. His staff burn through megawatts of brainpower and electrical energy as their computers crunch unfathomable amounts of information.
My wild estimates for the new complex are multi-exabytes of data storage and as much as 25 megawatts (of electrical power), respectively.

Graphic: Murat Yukselir/Globe and Mail

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