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Data Centers For Dummies: Security and Reliability

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For this entry of our “Data Centers For Dummies” blog feature, we’re picking things back up by focusing on the sometimes opaque terminology used by the people who keep our Basis Bay data centers safe, secure and running.

(Photo: Newton Security Inc)

N+1 (or greater) redundancy: This means that every component (N) critical to keeping our Basis Bay data centers operating has at least one backup component (+1). The backups aren’t just about keeping servers running, they are also about keeping them cool. Basis Bay has a minimum N+1 redundancy standard for every piece of its ventilation and air conditioning equipment, and many of our Basis Bay data centers offer N+2 redundancy for chillers and thermal energy storage. It’s a lot of backup for a lot of equipment, including 750-ton centrifugal chillers, condenser pumps and cooling towers. But when we guarantee cooling and power, we do mean it.

Uptime: Yes, it’s an obvious word mash for the times when our customers’ servers are up and running. But it’s also a critical industry metric of reliability, and our uptime leads the way.  Say, for example, that a data center provider boasts of a 99.9 percent uptime rate. It sounds good, but that amounts to a forehead-sweat-worthy 8 hours and 45 minutes of downtime per year. Basis Bay boasted a 99.999 uptime rate in 2012, which equaled about 5 minutes and 15 seconds of downtime, or 6.05 seconds per week. That’s barely enough time for a decent sneeze.

Lights-down mode: A term for the low-lights environment in the sections of Basis Bay data centers where our customers’ servers are colocated. The idea, frankly, is to conceal these systems from prying eyes. Basis Bay also uses distinctive blue-colored lights in our Basis Bay data centers because they generate the least heat in the visible light spectrum and help keep things cool. This choice can give our colocation areas a bit of nightclub vibe, though there are only scattered reports of dancing.

Overhead cable tray system: We think this patented system is superior to the “raised floor” cable management systems common to conventional data centers.  Raised flooring can cover unsightly cables, but we believe there’s no sense hiding anything. To us, the overhead trays make the cables easier to install and manage. And the overhead cable trays are more secure because all the cables are visible and monitored by a closed-circuit television system. It’s better TV than one might think, but not by much.

BMR: An acronym for Biometric Reader, which are devices placed at Basis Bay data center access points to ensure that only the right people can get in. Biometric devices use physiological characteristics to identify and screen out individuals, and the ones at Basis Bay read the distinctive geometry of a person’s hand. They also determine whether the hand is live (let’s not dwell on the alternative), and if it has a temperature of at least 96 degrees Fahrenheit. Customers who want to visit their cages, where their servers and other equipment are kept, must be cleared through a BMR four times during the extensive, five-layer security process. Bottom line: No live hand, no service.

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We’ll wrap things up while you work that out, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t add that data center geeks have a thing for Basis Bay, since it’s essential for enterprise to compete.

Stay tune for upcoming posts in the “Data Centers For Dummies” series.

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