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Bundled, Buried & Behind Closed Doors
November 10, 2011 1:41 PM   Subscribe

Bundled, Buried & Behind Closed Doors. "Lower Manhattan’s 60 Hudson Street is one of the world’s most concentrated hubs of Internet connectivity. This short documentary peeks inside, offering a glimpse of the massive material infrastructure that makes the Internet possible."
posted by twirlip (18 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Colos are pretty fascinating places. Wouldn't want to actually work in one though. Just the noise would be enough of a deterrent. My current company's servers are at the Crystal Palace inspired Infomart. It looks sorta cool but up close its age is definitely showing and I can't imagine that design is good for energy efficiency. To get to our cage all I need is my badge and a fingerprint scan at one point.

Last place I worked though, had a rack at Equinix Chicago. Getting into that place felt like being in a spy novel or something. First, the building isn't identified as Equinix at all on the outside. It's an ugly ass building that says something like "Chicago Plant #9". The first time my boss and I went in, we asked the guard at the desk if this was Equinix, and the reply was "why do you want to know?" Once our customer status was ascertained, we were escorted to our floor by an armed guard and then we got our badges as well as a whole hand scanned. Pretty much every door needed your badge, a hand scan, and a PIN. To get into the actual area with equipment you have to go through a mantrap. And then on our cage is a hand-crank-powered lock.

It was a pain in the ass whenever I actually had to go down there because it meant something had gone terribly wrong, but it was sorta fun at the same time.
posted by kmz at 2:16 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


The company I work for has gear at almost every place mentioned here. I haven't been to any of the really big colos personally, but we've got our own smaller ones where I've had to install gear, run cables, etc, and our main switch site for this market is like 20 feet away from my desk here (100 meg internet connections, ftw).

This is actually kind of cool for me to see, because I manage stuff in these places all the time and I've never seen or touched the equipment. I don't even know what half the shit even looks like.
posted by empath at 2:25 PM on November 10, 2011


I don't even know what half the shit even looks like.

Just hope that it looks more like this rather than this.
posted by kmz at 2:32 PM on November 10, 2011


Just hope that it looks more like this rather than this.

A little from column A; a little from column B.
posted by empath at 2:46 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hated having to go to our 60 Hudson racks. 76 9th Ave is where it's at.
posted by kdar at 3:18 PM on November 10, 2011


I hated having to go to our 60 Hudson racks. 76 9th Ave is where it's at.

Yeah, I like 76 9th Avenue too. Google NYC is there, as well as a big hosting facility, and plenty of places right outside for lunch.
posted by me & my monkey at 3:57 PM on November 10, 2011


Really? I used to work on Hudson Street and oftentimes our Internet service sucked.
posted by jonmc at 4:39 PM on November 10, 2011


Last place I worked though, had a rack at Equinix Chicago. Getting into that place felt like being in a spy novel or something. First, the building isn't identified as Equinix at all on the outside. It's an ugly ass building that says something like "Chicago Plant #9". The first time my boss and I went in, we asked the guard at the desk if this was Equinix, and the reply was "why do you want to know?" Once our customer status was ascertained, we were escorted to our floor by an armed guard and then we got our badges as well as a whole hand scanned. Pretty much every door needed your badge, a hand scan, and a PIN. To get into the actual area with equipment you have to go through a mantrap. And then on our cage is a hand-crank-powered lock.

Our stuff's at DataChambers, which has a really fascinating history that you won't find on their corporate site. The owners of Adele Knits, a textiles company, bought an old industrial building for expansion. While they were doing the walkthrough, the real estate agent asked if the wanted to see "the bunker." So down they went into an abandoned cold war era, blast-protected underground basement, complete with its own hospital. The place had been used to assemble missile targeting systems. Even though they had no previous experience in data hosting, they formed a company to use the space, which is a really awesome place now. The old hospital is now DC2.

I love taking auditors there.
posted by odinsdream at 4:42 PM on November 10, 2011


We currently host out of QTS Suwanee (northern Atlanta suburbs), and are getting ready to lease space at their location in Richmond, VA. The building in Suwanee is a big anonymous beige building with only an address visible from the street. To get to our office, I have to show my badge and sign in at the front desk, and then swipe my badge at two doors. To actually get to the datacenter floor where our servers are, I have to check in at the front desk, swipe my badge at one door, swipe my badge and give a fingerprint scan at a second door (which lets me into the mantrap), and then swipe my badge and get an iris scan before I can actually enter the raised floor area. Once I'm actually on the raised floor, I am monitored by camera as I make my way to our actual cage. The key to our equipment cage also has to be signed out from the front desk, and returned before they let you leave.

Like kmz says, it is kind of like something out of a spy novel to get to our servers. But I admit that I'm glad I only have to go up there on very rare occasions, because I know all of that would be annoying to deal with on a daily basis.
posted by ralan at 5:49 PM on November 10, 2011


Really? I used to work on Hudson Street and oftentimes our Internet service sucked.

Hudson st is where all the interconnects are between ISPs. Your actual internet connection is going to go through a bunch of shit before it gets there, even if your right down the street.
posted by empath at 5:57 PM on November 10, 2011


Good luck to any documentarians asking for a tour of the meet-me/interconnect rooms at One Wilshire or TECOTA/NOTA, it's not gonna happen... The sheer volume of data that goes through the NAP of the Americas in Miami is staggering, as its its crucial role in connectivity to the submarine cables that link the US to South America.
posted by thewalrus at 10:00 PM on November 10, 2011


Atlanta is also a massive colocation and carrier interconnect hub. I've spent waaaay too much time at 56 Marietta (now Telx) carrier hotel, QTS, Level3, InterNAP, GNAX, Savvis, UUNet/Verizon, etc., etc. A really big colo is an amazing thing to behold.
posted by kjs3 at 9:24 AM on November 11, 2011


I once visited a Bay Area colocation center. There was a guard in the lobby, and you had to use a hand-scanner to get in. The windows from the secure side into the lobby were said to be bulletproof glass.

On the day i was there, they had a company picnic outside - and had propped the emergency exit open from the secure side to the picnic area ...
posted by zippy at 9:54 AM on November 11, 2011


60 Hudson is bar none one of my favorite places on the planet. There's just something about walking through that big brick lobby knowing that this place has been moving information since the days of the telegraph.

And after getting through security, it's like stepping into a world where the machines took over. You can almost feel the volumes of data churning.

Depending on the floor/tenant and the duration of time you are tending to your machines, it can be a rare thing to behold another human for the entire time you're there. And if you do see somebody, odds are they are going to ignore you while on their way to tending to their machines.

The rest of the time it's just corridor after corridor of vaguely marked locked doors with humming fans behind them. In the middle of the most densely packed urban environment in the country.

Obviously, I really enjoy my visits.
posted by quite unimportant at 10:10 AM on November 11, 2011


A Tier 4 data center is an amazing place. Outside of the security and the scope and noise of the floor and the massive data networking setup you have huge, fully redundant (N+1) systems for everything. Multiple power feeds, a room full of glorified truck batteries that take over power instantly in case of power failures, N+1 generators that can supply megawatts of power for days once the batteries run out, huge VESDA fire suppression and HVAC cooling systems... they're like self-contained cities built for servers instead of people.
posted by Blue Meanie at 10:17 AM on November 11, 2011


fully redundant (N+1) systems for everything.

That reminds me: a few years ago a 12-inch water main broke outside of 60 Hudson and filled the basement with 3 feet of water.

Not a second of downtime.
posted by quite unimportant at 10:22 AM on November 11, 2011


Yeah the batteries, generators and cooling systems, etc, are really impressive. And all of them are internet connected as well so you get alarms if any of them are malfunctioning.

I can go days without getting a single task that originated with a human being. Most of what I do is respond to messages from machines at these data centers.
posted by empath at 10:45 AM on November 11, 2011


Outside of the security and the scope and noise of the floor and the massive data networking setup you have huge, fully redundant (N+1) systems for everything.

Of course, none of those are a guarantee that nothing will go wrong. Thankfully I haven't experienced it myself, but before I got here my company had 2 major power events. Somehow the redundant feeds weren't quite so redundant. I don't remember the details, sadly.

A few years ago 365 Main had a power loss event that knocked out a ton of websites.

One of the more amusing stories I've heard is from my boss who used to work at a large multinational with their own colo. Every month or so they would do a switchover test of the generator-based backup power system. Except one time somebody had forgotten to fill up the fuel tanks...
posted by kmz at 12:49 PM on November 11, 2011


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