What You Might Hear If You Were Touring Our Data Center In Person

By: Steve Eschweiler

Over the last few months we have had no less than 100 guests tour our Tampa data center. The data center tours have been so frequent I find myself going to bed reciting our power point presentation. So for the benefit of those who are not able to physically visit our facility, we do have customers in over 130 countries after all, I thought I would share with you a bit about what we talk about during a data center tour.

The Hivelocity data center is located roughly 20 miles inland and over 30 feet above sea level. Our Florida data center is well beyond the FEMA 500 year flood plain. Last year we had a new roof installed which is wind rated to 135 miles per hour. Since we moved into our new Tampa data center in January of 2011, we have run at 100% power and network uptime.

In the event we were to lose commercial power from the grid we have 2 x UPS and battery banks to fall over to. Incidentally, we just had 2 additional battery cabinets installed and had brand new batteries installed across the board. We also have a 1.25 Megawatt Cummins generator with roughly 7 days supply of diesel fuel. We have numerous fuel vendors from diverse counties with a variety of trucks big and small ensuring we always have a supplier able to fill our tanks. It should be said that our commercial power is very very stable and in over 2 years we have yet to transfer to generator for any reason other than scheduled load tests. If we ever do lose commercial power we immediately and automatically transfer the power load to our batteries. If after 3 seconds we are not back on commercial power our generator automatically turns on. If after 15 seconds we are still on our batteries we will automatically transfer the power load to our generator. We will then stay on our generator for 30 minutes after stable commercial power has returned.

We perform preventive maintenance on all of our critical infrastructure assets. I will begin with our generator regiment since we just covered backup power protocol. First, we run our generator for about 30 minutes every 2 weeks. During these exercises our facility team monitors the generator looking for any abnormalities. Every 6 months our preventive maintenance contractor comes out and services the engine and fuel tanks. Once a year we have our fuel tested for quality and sediment. Once each year we bring out a load bank and simulate our facility load on the generator. We have done 4 scheduled full load transfers over the last 2 years, each of which went perfectly. Every 3 months we perform preventive maintenance on all of our CRAC (computer room air conditioning) units. The systems are given a full inspection, pressure tested and filters replaced. Every 3 months our UPS and battery banks are inspected and tested. Once per year we put an infrared camera on the batteries looking for hot spots indicating potential issues. Obviously, during any of these inspections if an issue is found it is rectified on the spot. Our leak detection and fire suppression system is serviced and inspected once per year. Our PDUs (power distribution unit) are serviced and inspected every 6 months. All of our preventive maintenance is performed by outside vendors that specialize in the particular component they are contracted to service. Additionally, Hivelocity staffs a full-time facilities department that monitors and inspects all of our equipment throughout every day. Hivelocity monitors every piece of equipment listed above with a software called Falcon. In the event any gear has an issue or crosses a threshold we have set as "not ordinary" alarms are not only triggered in the 24/7/365 manned NOC but everyone on the "need-to-know" list is alerted on their mobile phones via text and email. Internal inspection reports are filled out throughout each day as our staff performs data center walk throughs.

The Hivelocity data center connects to the internet via 10Gbps fiber from each of our 6 transit providers. The Hivelocity network is comprised of Level 3, Time Warner Telecom, Global Crossing, GTT, Comcast and Cogent transit. Our fiber enters our data center via 2 diverse entry points. The diverse entry points ensure our network never suffers due to an accidental fiber cut outside the building. We route our network via Noction Intelligent Routing Platform ensuring we always provide the absolute best path for traffic. (here is where I hand you a Noction brochure).

What makes Hivelocity superior in the Tampa data center market is our network and staff. Since most Tampa data center s are simply colocation facilities the staff size is typically smaller and the techs less skilled than the Hivelocity support team. If you only offer colocation you only need enough staff to monitor the network and make sure no one is removing all of their gear in the middle of the night. Most colocation customers manage their own gear and therefore the need for super talented staff on-site 24/7 is very limited. Historically, our primary service offering has been leasing dedicated servers to customers all over the world with colocation available as well since we do have our own data center. Our customers utilize the thousands of servers in our data center for hundreds of different services. At one time or another, every customer of ours has required our tech support team's assistance. You can imagine with thousands of dedicated servers, over the years our techs have worked on just about every software or hardware issue imaginable. They have seen and worked on mySQL, MSSQL, Apache, IIS, Nginx, Litespeed, cPanel, Plesk, Helm, Asterix, FREEpbx, World of Warcraft, WOW servers, Gaming servers, ProxMox, OnApp, Virtuozzo, OpenVZ, SolusVM, Xen, KVM etc...etc....When a customer needs help there are techs here who can actually help. Our competitors who primarily offer colocation have guys who spend 99% of their time running cross-connects, doing reboots and escorting customers to their rack. Asking them to help you figure out why your server is kernel panicking is like asking your mother why your car wont start. Sure, if it is out of gas she can probably figure that out, anything outside of that, good luck. We are not just a data center, we are a full-service hosting company that employs technicians who know software, hardware and network like the back of their hand. Lastly, we are a very nimble company. If you need something done it happens and it happens quickly. Call up your existing data center and tell them you need a new 30 amp circuit for your colocation rack and see if they don't respond with a 1 to 2 week ETA. This is ludicrous. Why does it take a company that is paid to provide power and internet a week to give you power? Make that same request to Hivelocity and see if we dont tell you give us an hour or two. If you need a custom solution it happens and it happens quickly. We recently spec'd out a custom cloud solution for a colocation customer where we procured all of the hardware from SuperMicro, saving our customer thousands of dollars.

For information why our network is far superior than any other Tampa data center see our recent blog entry covering that very topic.

Every customer at Hivelocity is given access to the myVelocity management interface. myVelocity is where customers view & pay invoices, open trouble tickets and manage all of the services they have with Hivelocity. Additionally myVelocity allows customers to set up DNS, create A-records, view their IPMI interface and set up service monitoring. Every customer is able to monitor up to 5 services on every server they have with us. Additionally, if any of those services fail or hit the alarm threshold you have set, myVelocity can send you a text message or email alerting you. If you just want to have a peek inside the data center via a live video stream, myVelocity has that too. Tell me what other Tampa data center gives you all of that?

Now that I have told you all about our incredible data center, lets go take a look and see it in person. Now if you were in our conference room and I were wrapping up our presentation, this is where we would get up and go tour the data center. For those of you not able to physically be here you will have to get by with our video tour which is pretty awesome as well.