Monday, October 01, 2007

Datacenter Setup Guide

A newbie surfer won't really think where does yahoo.com serve from when visiting the site. Its basically not an issue of concern for a normal internet user. But people with "that" extra curiosity surely like to know what happens "Behind the Scenes" as it would be called if yahoo.com was a hollywood movie. Each site active on the internet is served from some or the other webserver/webservers in the world .... which are generally located in high speed and top class networked facilities called as datacenters.

Following are the major inputs needed for setting up a datacenter.

1. Space / Location :

You need to have sufficient space keeping in mind the number of servers you are planning to accomodate. Future expansion should also be given importance when selecting a space. Location is another important factor when you are setting up a datacenter. You need to select a location keeping in mind the following points :

* Accessibility to high speed networks / ISPs.

* Well connected transportation environment because you need to have a 24x7 staff working there.

* Reliable Continious Power Supply

2. Connectivity Providers :

Without connectivity to the internet your datacenter will be nothing more than a computer store room. You have to be very careful when selecting your connectivity providers. It is mandatory that you have connectivity from multiple service providers to provide 24x7 connectivity regardless of any outages. You need to consider the following factors when selecting the connectivity providers :

3. Connectivity speed :

For a datacenter environment you need very good quality and high speed broadband connections. Following are some types of high speed connections :

* T1 - Speed is 1.544 Mbps in full T1 capacity

* DS3 / T3 - Speed is up to 45Mbps in full capacity

* OC3 - Speed is up to 155Mbps

* OC12 - Speed is upto 622 Mbps

* GigE - Speed is up to 1000Mpbs

Selection of speed ideally depends on the number of servers you plan to keep. But a rough calculation suggests you need atleast multiple DS3 lines from different providers to get you decent connectivity for around 50-100 servers depending on their bandwidth usage.

For assistance in finding the right high speed broadband connection for your data center I strongly suggest the free services here: Bandwidth Solution

4. Bandwidth Cost :

Backbone providers charge you per GB or in blocks of GBs for bandwidth. You may calculate your rough usage and calculate the monthly charge you will have if and select the best deal if you ave options to choose from.

5. Gateway connectivity that they have.

Most big ISPs have their own backbones, others lease connectivity from major backbones like UUNET, AT&T,Verio,Cogent, Level3, Sprint etc particularly in US. You will have to do some analysis and research to trace the backbones if you are outside US. You can get this information from major ISPs in your country like in Singapore, it is Singtel. Some major networks are covered at : http://www.geog.ucl.ac.uk/casa/mart...s/isp_maps.html . When selecting multiple ISPs you must select ISPs using different backbones so you have connectivity atleast one provider when a backbone goes down.

6. Power Delivery/ UPS

Continious power supply is the most important requirement along with connectivity to have 0% outages for the servers. Multiple power backups are preferred. Depending on the number of server you will accomodate you need to place the power backup infrastructure. A combination of battery backups plus heavy duty diesel generators is generally preferred in most leading datacenters of the world. The idea is to maintain power supply through battery backups till generators become operational in times of power grid failures. If you can build a backup infrastructure to give you about 24 hours of backup it is more than sufficient for normal power outages.

7. Airconditioning / Fire Control Equipment /Security .

Servers are bound to get heated due to their continious working. A temperature controlled environment is very essential for proper functioning of the servers. When calculating power backup capcity you must consider airconditioning use as well. The temperature of the server rooms need to be maintained at 20-22 degrees celcius at all times. With the thousands/millions of wires connecting the servers to the power sources and connectivity sources, they are prone to some short-circuits which at times can cause fire. Fire control equipment needs to be installed in every room with automated triggering functions to prevent any damage. There are various types of fire control equipments available to opt from. Equipments which will not cause direct harm to server hardware should be selected. Use of liquid extinguishers should be avoided. Mist entinguishers can be used at the most. You also need to have security equipments in place to protect any critical or confidential data that the servers might be handling. Secure entry, logging of each visitor, limited staff access to actual server rooms, video camera monitoring are some things you need to implement for security.

8. Hardware / Internal Network

With the amount of investment being put in it is necessary to have reliable and robust hardware for best performance of the server. We will discuss about the server hardware itself in a seperate topic. Apart from servers hardwares like cables, routers, switches, racks etc. are also needed. You need to form a rigid internal network structure which should include backups for each active network when designing your internal network. We will discuss the contructions of the internal network and the exact applications of each hardware in the "Actual Setup of a Datacenter" article to follow.

9. Staff

Datacenters operate 24x7 and so you need to have staff present their 24 hours a day. Staff levels range from cleaning personnel to senior system administrators, reboot guys, network technicians etc. An experienced and knowledgable staff will ensure smooth operaing of a datacenter. If you have selected a transportationwise well connected location you should get good staff as well.

Use the above list to set up your data center and you'll be more likely to have a smooth experience.

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