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Data Center Overload

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the so-many-cables,-so-little-time dept.

The Internet 88

theodp writes "The first rule of data centers is: don't talk about data centers. Still, the NY Times Magazine manages to take its readers on a nice backstage tour of internet data centers, convincing Microsoft and others to let them sneak a peek inside some of the mega-centers that make up today's cloud. And if it's been a while since you software types stepped inside a real-life computing facility, there's an accompanying data-center-porn slideshow that'll give you an idea where your e-mail, photos, videos, music, searches, and other online services that you take for granted these days come from." Reader coondoggie sends in a related story about a government plan to spend $50 million on improving data center technology.

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russian FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28319763)

In Soviet Russia, data centers don't talk about you!

Cada Denter? (1)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 5 years ago | (#28319775)

Tada tencer?

Re:Cada Denter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28319787)

All hail the data dentists!

Data Center Overload (1)

Jerome H (990344) | more than 5 years ago | (#28319791)

Can someone explain me why is this article called "Data Center Overload" ?

Re:Data Center Overload (1)

nietpiet (836036) | more than 5 years ago | (#28319805)

Data Center Overlords?

Re:Data Center Overload (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#28319811)

If it had been called "Data centers. What's up with those then?", you probably wouldn't have read it.

Re:Data Center Overload (3, Funny)

Jerome H (990344) | more than 5 years ago | (#28319823)

Actually I'm pretty bored so I would have read anything remotly related to data centers.

But now I'm just disappointed.

Re:Data Center Overload (1)

fluffernutter (1411889) | more than 5 years ago | (#28330101)

I find the topic of 'web' or 'internet' data centers very boring. Unfortunately, I guess because this is the 'internet' it is the type of data center that seems to be discussed. The other kind of data center with a real company and internal users, departments, groups, and projects is much more interesting. A 'web' data center usually consists of a large amount of homogeneous systems which is really dull; you really only need to worry about satisfying capacity and that's it. Servers need to be upgraded? Take one down in your array of twenty and upgrade it.

Re:Data Center Overload (1)

Jesterace (914041) | more than 5 years ago | (#28319815)

All hail our Data Center Overlords!!

Re:Data Center Overload (2, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28319853)

Well I for one welcome them.

Re:Data Center Overload (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 5 years ago | (#28320323)

Can someone explain me why is this article called "Data Center Overload" ?

Quantum entanglement between me [ozzu.com] and Soulskill.

Re:Data Center Overload (2, Insightful)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 5 years ago | (#28320499)

    Maybe I'm spoiled, but I've seen much bigger, denser datacenters. I have some pictures that I'm not suppose to have. This looked like a fairy tame facility, nothing I'd be impressed by.

    Try Equinix Ashburn VA, Equinix Chicago, Level3 New York, One Wilshire Los Angeles, or a dozen others that I've been in that I don't feel like listing out right now. These pictures could have been out of any of dozens of mom and pop datacenters I've been in around the country. If you were standing in one section, and all you see is cages and densely stacked equipment in all directions, and 100 feet away there's a door that leads to the next section that's the same, followed by another door that leads to the same, then you're looking at a dense datacenter. If you look into a cage and just see an entire row of Cisco 8500's, that are feeding adjoining racks and cage space, plus transit fiber and in/out fiber, that's impressive. I was at InterNAP Seattle, which is a smaller facility, but the next cage space to the one I was working in was a row of maybe 15 racks, each stuffed with 40 1u SuperMicro servers. Behind that, 8 more rows exactly the same. Every one of them had drive and network lights blinking away. On the other side, across a row, 3 rows of 20 racks stuffed with Dell 1u servers. In the next room it was the same. In the next suite, WaMu sign decorated the doors, but secure access was required to get to through the door. Someone in the building told me they had toured the suite and it was floor to ceiling and wall to wall equipment. In a suite down the hall? Microsoft. They had a similar configuration. another suite down the hall, probably at least 10,000 sq/ft, they were building out new space for Microsoft. The building was shut down one day just so they could airlift air conditioners to the roof for the new space (I have YouTube video of part of the airlift).

    In Los Angeles, I don't know who owned the space, but it was their laser printer room. They had blinds on the window (like, cheap residential blinds). I peeked through a gap and saw racks full of laser printers. It belonged to a bank, I just don't know which one. In the basement, heavily armed security escorted armored trucks in and out of a vehicle trap (double steel roll gates), so I never saw what was inside, and judging by the weaponry it was a bad choice to approach a guard while they were outside the gate. I kept my distance, and they didn't threaten me. That was just one floor.

    One customer I knew of on another floor there started out with a dozen racks of 1u servers (stuffed 40u). Their hosting business grew. Then it grew more. I talked to them and they really knew what they were doing. A small staff that knew what they were doing, but a huge business, the perfect blend. Last time I was there, I walked the outside of their cage area and if I recall correctly, I gave up counting at a few hundred racks, each stuffed with 1u machines, except the occasional rack that held the redundant switches for that section.

    If I had pictures of everything I've seen, that would make for an impressive display. Most facilities have strict "no recording devices of any sort" rules. No cameras, video recorders, cell phones with cameras, etc. It's probably fine to know that a huge hosting company is as big as they say, but what if you're told that you're hosting with a huge company, to find that their "datacenter" is just a rack at a mom and pop place, and their rack is populated by 1/2 dozen old desktop PC's stacked on each other? Intelligence gathered from a DC can be dangerous. Some places put stickers on with the hostname and IP of every unit. So, if Mr. Evil Hacker (not me, of course) knows X hosting has 4 xisco x500 routers and 8 xisco x590 switches, all labeled, and looking at the photos he can follow the cables through and sees that the routers at 1.2.3.4 and 1.2.3.5 (public IP's) are the only incoming connections so he start looking harder and find that those routers have an old software with a known remote vulnerability and he decides to switch one number on each inbound interface, change the enable passwords, and then save the configs?

    It's a really good reason to label machines so they make sense to you and your staff, but not to the casual observer. Generally, my equipment has a partial hostname, but you don't even know who our company is, or what domain those hostnames go with. Even the DC provider has a corporate entity listed on file, but that doesn't necessarily associate to the domain.

    Myself, I prefer to name machines for rack, serial, city, company. so, a01.nyc.example.com would be rack a, machine 01, New York datacenter, of example.com. The DC may have John and Bill Enterprises listed as the company, because that's the corporate entity it uses for handling datacenter transactions exclusively.

Re:Data Center Overload (4, Funny)

Plunky (929104) | more than 5 years ago | (#28321441)

Maybe I'm spoiled, but I've seen much bigger, denser datacenters.

Maybe you have but I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I've watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those ... moments will be lost in time, like tears...in rain. Time to die. Wait, what?

Re:Data Center Overload (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 5 years ago | (#28321627)

Is this to be an empathy test? Capillary dilation of the so-called blush response? Fluctuation of the pupil. Involuntary dilation of the iris...

Re:Data Center Overload (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28325721)

My sphincter twitched. Do I pass?

Re:Data Center Overload (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 5 years ago | (#28327129)

    Probably not. But you should avoid eating lunch there again. Oh, and make your way to the nearest bathroom as fast as you can, you're about to make a serious mess.

Ooh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28323175)

Can I have your stuff? [thenoobcomic.com]

Re:Data Center Overload (1)

Matheus (586080) | more than 5 years ago | (#28323171)

Can someone explain to me why journalists continue to try to find obscure references for comparison?

"Data centers worldwide now consume more energy annually than Sweden."

This sentence while having some sort of dramatic effect tells the reader nothing. How many Swedens does Norway use? The US? Russia? Japan? Not to mention if you try to factor for the reality that there are data centers in Sweden using power.. are they eliminated from the Sweden unit and added to the worldwide data center total or are they included in both which makes the whole stat corrupted.

Dammit.

We don't need no stinking datacenter (3, Insightful)

Bender Unit 22 (216955) | more than 5 years ago | (#28319819)

Now that he mentions XBL:
We here at Xbox Live make the users fiddle with hosting their own sessons and make them pay a subscribtion fee for it too! muhaha.
Problems with lag, not being able to play with many users in one session, getting everyone disconnected when the host don't want to host anymore? We don't care, we don't have to, we are XBL.

Re:We don't need no stinking datacenter (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28319961)

I know what you mean, considering the incompetence of the Broken Steel released and the related MS arrogance, I'm not going to be buying anything from MS again. Which admittedly doesn't mean much since the only thing I've bought from them in the last 5 years was 1 xbox controller and a few things through their store.

It always amazes me the number of MS apologists out there that think that behaving in that sort of thuggish, unprofessional fashion is OK.

Re:We don't need no stinking datacenter (1)

OolimPhon (1120895) | more than 5 years ago | (#28320371)

The mice are not bad. But that's as far as I'd go, I think.

Re:We don't need no stinking datacenter (1)

SnowZero (92219) | more than 5 years ago | (#28322447)

MS natural keyboards are excellent IMO, since they are a great balance of ergonomics versus price and a familiar enough layout. I wish they had put as much thought into their software. The only two things I have bought from MS (for my own use) in the past ten years are two keyboards; They've worked quite nicely with my various Linux machines.

Re:We don't need no stinking datacenter (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 5 years ago | (#28321895)

I'm totally sorry I don't make purchasing decisions based on your experiences and opinions. It's terribly self-centered of me to consider my own thoughts ahead of yours on matters that have no effect on you.

Of course it would help if I could distinguish you from about 7 billion other people' but I can't. Until that's rectified, I'm afraid you don't count.

Data center "porn"? (4, Insightful)

schamberlin (1354695) | more than 5 years ago | (#28319859)

What's with the trend of calling technical info "porn"? A while ago on Wired, there was an article on "nanotech porn". It really reinforces the stereotype that tech guys are all a bunch of creepy bearded child molesters, whacking off to photoshopped images of Catherine Janeway in their mom's basement.

Re:Data center "porn"? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28319913)

The term implies lack of substance, focus on looks and removedness from real-world scenarios. That is what these slideshows are. There's very little information in them, important details are not shown because they're not visually intriguing and what is shown has almost nothing to do with what it's like to work in a data center (or what scientists working on nano technology are actually doing).

Re:Data center "porn"? (2, Insightful)

ADenyer (954411) | more than 5 years ago | (#28319969)

It also makes it harder to view the articles at work, especially when you have to explain why the word shows up in your proxy logs...

Re:Data center "porn"? (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 5 years ago | (#28323183)

We're trying to desensitize the porn sensors. In a few years, you'll won't have to worry about machine generated nsfw tags.

Re:Data center "porn"? (1, Insightful)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#28319975)

What's with the trend of calling technical info "porn"? A while ago on Wired, there was an article on "nanotech porn". It really reinforces the stereotype that tech guys are all a bunch of creepy bearded child molesters, whacking off to photoshopped images of Catherine Janeway in their mom's basement.

Not to mention the inanity of using the word "cloud". This also suggests that tech guys are a bunch of dumb, unthinking, corporate drone, buzzword-spouting jerks. Whereas, in fact, we all now that's marketing people. So the word "cloud" shouldn't be used on /. at all (along with blogosphere or any similar alpha-simian corporate-speak). Unless of course "cloud" refers to water vapour in the sky, or a spaceship called cloud, or something similar.

It's really quite simple. If you use buzzwords you are a dick, not a geek.

Re:Data center "porn"? (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28320061)

Not to mention the inanity of using the word "cloud". This also suggests that tech guys are a bunch of dumb, unthinking, corporate drone, buzzword-spouting jerks.

This is a revisionist load of horseshit. The cloud represented the internet and all its myriad services on network diagrams long before anyone started talking about it for distributed computing. It's like claiming that only newbies put the dollar sign in Micro$oft, which completely ignores the long tradition as represented in geekery with Compu$erve.

"Cloud" is no worse a term than any other. It's clear, however, that anyone who would talk about an information superhighway needs an ass-kicking.

Re:Data center "porn"? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28478117)

The cloud represented the internet

[citation needed]. This usage is completely new to me, despite being in the iIternet, since it was reachable from Germany, and being on BBSes, long before that.

Re:Data center "porn"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28320037)

whacking off to photoshopped images of Catherine Janeway in their mom's basement.

Disgusting, one really has to wonder where you can find pictures like that. I mean it must be some website?

Re:Data center "porn"? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#28320609)

What's with the trend of calling technical info "porn"?
 
It's only a trend if you've been living in a cardboard box somewhere in Outer Mongolia for the last decade and some... (And it's not just 'techie' stuff either. I first heard the term 'foodie porn' back in the mid 90's.)

Years ago there was "Truck Porn" ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28320641)

for little kids. Nothing but earth movers and dump trucks and bucket loaders. 8 year old boys loved it, and the parents behind their backs would call it truck porn.

Re:Data center "porn"? (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#28321023)

Don't be so sensitive. The usage is pretty common in media, like the food channel dishing out "food porn", etc.

Who the hell is this Catherine, btw?

Re:Data center "porn"? (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#28321045)

"Who the hell is this Catherine, btw?"

Never mind. Get out a bit and reign in your paranoia.

Re:Data center "porn"? (1)

weicco (645927) | more than 5 years ago | (#28321159)

What's with the trend of calling technical info "porn"?

Well, their innards are showing. The servers I mean, they're naked. Like C3PO in SW1!

Re:Data center "porn"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28321195)

...whacking off to photoshopped images of Catherine Janeway in their mom's basement.

Where can I find said images?

Re:Data center "porn"? (0)

zonker (1158) | more than 5 years ago | (#28324747)

What's with the trend of calling technical info "porn"? A while ago on Wired, there was an article on "nanotech porn". It really reinforces the stereotype that tech guys are all a bunch of creepy bearded child molesters, whacking off to photoshopped images of Catherine Janeway in their mom's basement.

That's hot.

I, for one, ... (2, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 5 years ago | (#28319885)

... welcome our new Data Center Overlord!
[ What? Oh (damn glasses), never mind. ]

Re:I, for one, ... (1)

qwertzisnotazerty (956418) | more than 5 years ago | (#28320123)

to me it's beter like this:

I, for one, welcome our new Data Center Overload.

Much beter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28324241)

But where's the ob. NO CARRIER?

Fire suppression (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28319911)

What do these mega data-centres use for fire suppression? I don't see obvious gas or dry-pipe systems.

Re:Fire suppression (1)

Diag (711760) | more than 5 years ago | (#28322415)

It varies over time. When I started working in data centers, almost 18 years ago, it was all halon gas, which is lethal to humans,so we all learnt the evacuation procedures pretty well! Then they moved to isolated sprinklers.... the sprinklers would only activate in the vicinity of the detected fire, thereby only destroying 2 or 3 racks rather than the whole room. Now, I think they've gone back to gas.

Re:Fire suppression (1)

chesapeake (264414) | more than 5 years ago | (#28323143)

I think that typically new, fancy gases are used. I've seen FM200 (http://www2.dupont.com/FE/en_US/products/FM200.html) used. For example, Internode apparently uses both FM200 (triggered by smoke) and water (triggered by heat). There's a slideshow with some info buried somewhere inside about it here: http://www.computerworld.com.au/article/306254/inside_internode_data_centre [computerworld.com.au]

I believe that it's pretty expensive though, and that Internode facility is a very small DC compared to some of the ones discussed in the article above, so I'm not sure what they'd use.

Re:Fire suppression (1)

jbengt (874751) | more than 5 years ago | (#28323597)

Throughout my 28 years in construction, I've seen data centers and server rooms with gaseous fire suppression systems, water sprinkler systems. Often, they will have both, the gaseous system being useful to minimize damage to equipment, but water systems possibly to meet a fire protection code. If I've seen any trend, it is to get cheaper by only putting in pre-action sprinkle systems and forgoing the more expensive gaseous systems.
Halon has been phased out and is banned in new construction, because of its' ozone depletion and global warming concerns. It has been replaced with mostly FM200, a non-ozone depleting gaseous fire supressant. Both are lethal in high enough concentrations; since they are designed to interfere with oxygen combining with fuels they can suffocate you. Neither are particularly toxic otherwise.
Almost all sprinklers heads are "isolated" in action. They each have a fusible link that melts if it gets hot enough (usually at 165F) to release the water from that head only. The thing they do in data centers, is use pre-action systems. These have piping filled with air, and won't spray water until the pre-action valve lets the water in. That means that the head won't spray water if it's accidentally bumped open. The valve will only open if a heat/smoke detector goes off (often, only if two go off) and the water won't go anywhere unless the fusible link opens. This avoids a lot of expense from a false alarm.

In the Beginning (1)

PingPongBoy (303994) | more than 5 years ago | (#28319957)

We are Borg...

It had to all start somewhere. It started with "We will not be Slashdotted."

Some people's small world (4, Insightful)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28319989)

Walking home, I ruminated on the number. Sixty-six thousand is the population of a small city Muncie, Ind., for one. Who and where was this invisible metropolis? What infrastructure was needed to create this city of ether?
Anyone else struck by the open-eyed naivete in this? How does this guy even grow up in the United States and this is a mystery to him? It is the profound ignorance of men like him that is most troubling - and this one is a journalist, supposedly worldly! And this fool has the clout to get Microsoft's GM of datacenters to give him a guided tour of the Xbox facility. "Look, Tommy, here's where your packets mix with those of others" "Gee willikers thanks Mr. Manos!" Is this the level journalists are at? Tourists?

We have an almost inimical incuriosity when it comes to infrastructure.
No, buddy, I think from the huge number of programs on our entertainment programs that most people find the subject highly interesting. It's just you and your journalist clique who have an incuriousity to anything not of your own small world. Please stop including me when you say "we".

Re:Some people's small world (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28320055)

huge number of programs on our entertainment programs
Should be entertainment channels. Unlike some people, I don't have a professional editor checking my work.

Re:Some people's small world (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 5 years ago | (#28320193)

most people don't work in IT and do not know about the organization of a "data center". For that matter, I work in IT and often in data centers, but I don't play games on either my P.C. or with other people, I have no idea of the numbers of players of these popular online games which are only names to me.

Re:Some people's small world (4, Funny)

billybob_jcv (967047) | more than 5 years ago | (#28320283)

HG Wells said it in 1895. The human species will bifurcate into the Morlocks who build machines and technology, and the Eloi who pick flowers. The bad news is that we are the Morlocks. The good news is that we eat the Eloi.

Re:Some people's small world (1)

PuddleBoy (544111) | more than 5 years ago | (#28320381)

And I should point out that in photo #8 in the slideshow, the text describes hot and cold isles, but the photo is of electrical conduit.

Yes, the journalist was a tourist.

Re:Some people's small world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28320957)

Pay no attention to the errant cat5 running diagonally in the Data Center. The miscreant has been cornered in Sector B3 and will be neutralized before any further damage.

Re:Some people's small world (1)

Johnny Mnemonic (176043) | more than 5 years ago | (#28321445)

I agree with this sentiment. Some of the dumbest commentary I have ever read are from those that style themselves professional investigators. No wonder they are going out of business; they are the stupidest people in the room, so no one finds what they have to say illuminating. And therefore it has no value.

I soothe myself thinking that the journalists are actually smarter than they write; they are just writing down to their audience. I'm not sure I believe that, though. I think many are just creatures of their limited perspective of the newsroom, and are constantly surprised that there is a world outside of that with complexity that they are not able to imagine. It's no wonder that our political establishment can avoid hard scrutiny, when it is so easy to impress and distract these guys with the most trivial bs. Just cause it's new to them doesn't mean that the rest of the world doesn't know it already.

For data center commentary, I go to Data Center Knowledge. While they don't know a lot about the mega-datacenters, they at least have been in a colo once in awhile.

Reuse? (1)

Temujin_12 (832986) | more than 5 years ago | (#28320029)

Does anyone know what datacenters do with the water that's heated? Does anyone know if there are any datacenters out there that put the heated water to good use (like this guy [thebuehls.com] )?

Re:Reuse? (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 5 years ago | (#28320207)

er, the water gets recirculated with the heat removed; waste heat is dumped to the outside world. they run the water in circles.

Re:Reuse? (1)

Temujin_12 (832986) | more than 5 years ago | (#28320255)

waste heat is dumped to the outside world

That's the part I'm talking about. Seems like that heat could be put to good use somehow.

Re:Reuse? (1)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 5 years ago | (#28320713)

waste heat is dumped to the outside world

That's the part I'm talking about. Seems like that heat could be put to good use somehow.

There are projects in that direction, though they dont tend to be big news except getting a mention when New Scientist run a "green issue". The problem though is that the energy involved is often not enough to be particularly significant once you consider how much is left after the conversion and transportation processes needed to make use of it elsewhere.

There are various ways the energy can be used if you get beyond the "not enough to be genuinely useful once you've transported and processed it" problem. In cold areas it can be used as part of the heating system for offices in the building or near by (straying off-topic a little: energy sapped from the cooling towers of power stations is sometimes used this way), for heating water, if you have a *lot* of waste heat you can try convert it to electrical energy and feed it into the air con systems of the server rooms themselves, and so on.

The trouble is that the investment in technology needed to reuse the "waste" heat is currently often more expensive than the savings it provides through reduced energy use elsewhere, so most companies will only do it if they want to show off some green credentials for publicity reasons. This will change over time, as the technologies are refined and become cheaper and as energy prices rise.

Re:Reuse? (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 5 years ago | (#28331205)

yeah, for electrical power generation, how can there be a temperature difference big enough to plug into thermodynamic efficiency equation and not come up with an absurdly low number? hard limit there

Re:Reuse? (1)

Bender Unit 22 (216955) | more than 5 years ago | (#28320243)

I remember that one, great idea but personally I would never dare to do that except if the cooling water was a closed loop with some sort of heat exchange.
I played with watercooling my pc some years ago before I got a laptop and it was great fun and many ways to keep your computer quiet.
I made a combination of passive and active cooling. The outside radiator(this one in a larger version http://www.highspeedpc.com/Merchant2/graphics/00000001/Konvgroup2.jpg [highspeedpc.com] ) could keep the CPU and GPU cool when not gaming, and when the water temp got too high i had a smaller radiator inside with a fan(something like this http://www.hardware-one.com/reviews/senfu_water_cooler/images/radiator1-big.jpg [hardware-one.com] ) that was controlled by a microcomputer would spin the fan up.
It was really a neat little thing that could be programmed with different curved with fan volt and temperature on each axis.

Every server center has one of thee (1)

kilodelta (843627) | more than 5 years ago | (#28320111)

http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2009/06/14/magazine/20090614-search-slideshow_6.html [nytimes.com]

In the case of the one I designed it was a huge red slam button labeled "Master Shutdown" and was under a flip cover.

Re:Every server center has one of thee (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 5 years ago | (#28321017)

Have you ever been tempted to press the Jolly candy-like button [youtube.com] ?

Re:Every server center has one of thee (1)

ADenyer (954411) | more than 5 years ago | (#28321519)

Have you ever been tempted to press the Jolly candy-like button?

Have any of you ever actually pushed one? There is a surreal reverse-woosh as everything shuts down simultaneously, followed by an eerie pin-drop silence...

Re:Every server center has one of thee (1)

Diag (711760) | more than 5 years ago | (#28322451)

There is nothing more eerie than the sound of a busy computer room suddenly going silent.

Overload? (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#28320133)

What overload? How is anything there supposed to be called an 'overload'?

Normally I decry bad submissions, but this one is just confusing.

I knew it (1)

Library Spoff (582122) | more than 5 years ago | (#28320201)

Ha, no SD card slots suckas!
My new MacBook roolz...

Re:I knew it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28321163)

"Acid House saves Souls"

Another gay mac fanboy.

Ah, the datacenter in Quincy (1)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 5 years ago | (#28320457)

My my, how Grant County really, really fucked that one up. They got it, but the county is barely seeing a dime thanks to the grotesque incompetence of the PUD and their fiber optic program...

I like the 'secure cages' (1)

e9th (652576) | more than 5 years ago | (#28320505)

Let's see. "trading engines of several large financial exchanges" secured by cages sitting on a raised floor. What could possibly go wrong?

I hope they at least have cameras or under-floor motion detectors.

Re:I like the 'secure cages' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28321771)

Actually they put caging under the floor too.

Re:I like the 'secure cages' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28321813)

That must make pulling cables lots of fun.

And we're surprised newspapers are going broke? (1)

thebian (1218280) | more than 5 years ago | (#28320843)

Gee whiz.

Surely this isn't the stuff democracy can't live without.
Perhaps newspaper editors don't have a clue about what people need/want to read.
Project the level of sophistication shown in this article in the glamorous Times Magazine onto stuff reporters and editors are expected to know about. Imagine the dopey insight we get about the economy, nuclear proliferation, cultural trends.

The three monkeys (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#28320955)

The first rule of data centers is: don't talk about data centers.

You know, for all his talk of openness, the geek can be pretty shut-mouthed at times.

Wrong pictures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28320985)

Here's what real data centers look like, before the film crew shows up: http://rawiriblundell.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/cablingbefore3.jpg [rawiriblundell.com]
and
http://rawiriblundell.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/cablingnow.jpg [rawiriblundell.com]

Re:Wrong pictures (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 5 years ago | (#28321575)

From what I hear, data centers are horrible place to work-- icy cold in some areas, oppressively hot in others, and very noisy. Messes of cables, besides interfering with ventilation, and thwarting the entire purpose of designing a building around cooling needs, require an unlucky tech to periodically waste hours figuring out the wires before attempting routine maintenance.

Re:Wrong pictures (1)

Itigya (776348) | more than 5 years ago | (#28323401)

I work in a smaller datacenter, it is rather uncomfortable. It's mostly hot everywhere except for the cold rows where it's fairly pleasant (temperature-wise). You can't hear much of anything over the noise of fans and stuff. Fortunately we have a small cluster of offices right next to the DC which is where I spend most of my shift.

Sometimes ... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 5 years ago | (#28321285)

... "don't talk about X" is just cover for "we don't want to show you how badly we've f*cked up".

I used to work for a major corporation that consolidated all of its redundant data centers into one location, located a few hundred feet from the Seattle Fault [wikipedia.org] . Then, there's the time they discovered an electrical problem in a component of what was supposed to be a redundant power system that required a complete shutdown of that data center for several days. To replace a couple of mis-torqued bolts.

NJ2 (2, Informative)

br00tus (528477) | more than 5 years ago | (#28321451)

In case anyone is wondering what the mysterious "NJ2" data center in Weehawken, New Jersey is, it is Savvis's Weehawken data center.

Those aren't cooling conduits (1)

mabu (178417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28321583)

I'm pretty sure in one of those pictures they show electrical conduit and the caption says they're for cooling the equipment.

Re:Those aren't cooling conduits (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 5 years ago | (#28322129)

Right. Those were definitely electrical conduits, likely with a substantial amperage available if you shorted them.

Re:Those aren't cooling conduits (1)

starfishsystems (834319) | more than 5 years ago | (#28324417)

Could be anything in those conduits. Fiber maybe. But certainly not cool air.

I also had to laugh at the caption that went with the pretty array of blue network cable and red connectors: "Data centers run enormously scaled software applications with millions of users." Well good. That's why we're looking at a patch panel then?

Slide Counting Fail (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 5 years ago | (#28321707)

TFA claims there are 10 pictures, but I count only 9. Unless the image saying 'back to the beginning' counts as a slide. Come on NYT, we expect more from you.

Re:Slide Counting Fail (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 5 years ago | (#28322173)

You are expecting them to actually check their sources?

Re:Slide Counting Fail (1)

grrrl (110084) | more than 5 years ago | (#28333159)

I noticed this the very first time I ever viewed a NYT slideshow. It is consistent across them all - there is always one less slide than the total given at the top right.

Way to neat inside??? (1)

luke69 (947075) | more than 5 years ago | (#28322925)

I been in a lot of big Data Centers and gone are the Mainframes they were designed for and replaced with racks of servers that throw off more heat than a hot plate!

Any real data center pictures? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28323905)

I worked in many data centers of Fortune 100 companies and I've seen HUGE data centers, ones that are multi-floor and require you to practically take bicycles to get from one end to another. The pictures in these stories look like a tiny co-lo room in some data center. If you really want to see great sights and massiveness of racks there is a building in New York City, it used to be known as MFN and then renamed to the longer name Metromedia Fibre Networks at 72 9th Avenue, New York, NY [google.com] that takes up the whole block from 15th to 16th Street. The building is the size of an entire city block and length of an entire avenue with at least 10-floors high and some basements also. The place is filled with data centers from all the communications companies that you could name. The place is discrete and you could never tell what is inside it and how much data runs through the place. The FBI and NSA even have their own secret facilities in there for wire tapping, I've been told. Each floor is split into huge long running rooms and the rooms a full of racks and racks of computer and communications equipment.

I worked in this building a few years ago building out an entire room for a company and once I took a walk down the hallways during a work day only to see most of these high security rooms open when technicians going in and out doing build-outs and maintenance work. Normally every room is protected by multiple access biometric security devices, hand, fingerprint, weight, ID badge, and code but on that day there was so much work going on in these rooms that the door were propped open because this was after WTC 9/11 where all places with data center space started getting rented out because so much data center space was lost after the towers collapsed and also after the surrounding buildings were damaged or made inaccessible.

The rooms were all massive and all filled with comm cables and racks of equipment. I didn't have a camera or a camera phone back in those days so I couldn't take any pictures as a keepsake but the sights were amazing. I did take some pictures of the data center that I build out to document the progression of work and I still have those pictures that make these little shots in the stories look like computer closets and not real data centers.

If you're ever in New York City and want to worship a shrine to data centers and communications visit this little building and marvel at it. The real entrance to it is in the back of the building next to StarBucks [google.com] and the lobby of that entrance looks like a boring little elevator lobby to some rinky-dink place. Believe me that is the magic doorway to one of the largest data center and communications buildings on the planet.

There is Homestead Steakhouse [google.com] on block down from which I only had one chance to try their fantastic but super expensive steaks after spending my holidays working in the building and across the street is the Chelsea Market [google.com] .

(Note: If this post violates the security and secrecy of this building feel free to contact the admins of this forum and ask them to delete it form their database to hide the identity of this building again. I won't be offended if it is removed.)

yea I'm in one on a daily basis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28326821)

Gotta swap tapes.

Its actually an impressive facility. solid security too.

Our stuff is in an AT&T facility. They recently jacked the rates and half the place seems to be emptying out... Everyone was shaking their heads at the "boneheaded" decision.

I actually wonder if their cooling, electrical, and backup utilities are enough to supply the massive amount of server space on the data center floor. I'm thinking they might have raised rates to clear the place out a little until they can upgrade their stuff to provide the 99.9% uptime they claim.

One client that left was spending 1 million dollars a month for their cage space.

not nearly as cool as the old mainframe days (1)

vaporland (713337) | more than 5 years ago | (#28327031)

You kids. I was a computer operator for a large insurance company in the late 1970s. We had a vast room full of mainframe gear, and a sea of hard drives, each as big as a washing machine.

Once we started the night shift "batch" jobs, those disk units would go into the spin cycle. 40 or 50 floor standing hard drives all rocking and vibrating, the entire computer room floor rumbling like the Long Island Expressway at rush hour, lights flashing, tapes spinning, reams of paper flowing like waterfalls off of line printers and a laser printer as big as a panel truck.

All you had to do was press the red 'halt' button on the system console to bring everything to an immediate, silent pause. Hit the green "run" button, and everything picked up right where it left off. For a nineteen year old kid just out of high-school, it was a form of power and control, literally at my fingertips, that I've not experienced since in any other job.

The computer was so big you could open the cabinet and stand up inside it. The system supported more than a thousand terminals over an entire statewide region using only 4MB of real memory.

Today's server racks are.... boring.
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