6 Jul

2011

How SiteGround Decided and Moved to a new Data Center

At some point last year, SingleHop, whose data centers hosted part of our business, informed me about a brand new facility they had just started to use in Chicago. What they were saying about it was so impressive that I decided to go and personally check the place. At that point SiteGround was using several data centers, operated by different providers and had no plans to change the situation, but my visit to the facility laid the foundations for some new plans.

Water tank near the entrance (image from http://dft.com/)The building of the new Data Center is located in the western suburbs of Chicago – a city that never seizes to amaze me not only with its beauty, friendly people and style, but with its technology culture and the wide variety of hosting companies based there. The data center name is DFT (stands for Dupont Fabros Technology) CH1 and is one of the Midwest’s most sophisticated and efficient data centers.

Arriving at the location the first thing that strikes you is the size of everything. The facility is enormous, starting from the water tank in front of it, the size of the cooling systems, power generators, computing rooms and everything else.

To get inside the building, we had to pass a security check in a bullet proof lobby, give all our personal details, have our pictures taken, get temporary visitor passes and finally, have a guy assigned to watch over us. The facility has 24×7 human security in addition to all those standard physical security features like biometrics and access control mantraps. It was all way more serious than any in any other DC I’ve been so far.

Power generators (image from http://dft.com/)Once we were done with the security, I immediately asked about the water tank and we were taken underground to a part of the facility that operated its water-cooling. It turned out that the whole DC was kept cold with chilled water that goes underneath it, which by the way is a very smart and energy efficient way to do the cooling part. I was already impressed, but what I was about to see was even more impressive.

From down the water-cooling part we headed up to the Generators section. To be honest, we only saw one of those 16 cylinder diesel ‘babies’, that powered the place, but were assured that there were 2 of them for each Computing Room plus one for backup.

Computing room (image from http://dft.com/)To get from the computing room leased by our provider Singlehop to the place where the servers are actually stored, we walked about 10 minutes! Afterwards we went to the dock, where the hardware comes in the DC. It had room for at least 4 enormous trucks to unload a cargo of servers simultaneously. It even had a room where the servers would stay 24-48 hours after delivery, just to cool off and get used to the temperature in the DC, where it is quite chilly.

After seeing personally this data center, which was much better than any other I had been to, I began to think that it might be a good idea to move all servers here.

Of course for such a serious decision we needed to ensure that the service would be as impressive as the facility itself. We already had a first-hand experience with SingleHop services at a smaller scale. Now we had to negotiate a much bigger deal with the best terms possible. SingleHop were ready to extend our partnership and to provide everything custom we required.

So here are the most essential terms we negotiated to ensure the lowest possible risk of hardware failure and the fastest possible reaction in case of a problem:

  • custom tests are run on all the hardware by SingleHop before it gets to our own administrators (who then run additional tests, before the hardware goes in production);
  • spare parts will be available at any time for every single piece of hardware we use. Additionally, in case spare parts could not fix a problem, we will keep empty spare servers – configured, tested, plugged and ready to go in a minute;
  • only senior technicians are allowed to operate on SiteGround servers. Their reaction time is much faster thanks to the SingleHop policy of providing them with android phones so they can communicate while being at the point of the problem.

So having seen the facility and nailing the contract to meet our high standards, we took the final decision to move forward. The preparation process took some time as we first tested all different sorts of hardware to come up with the best performing configuration for each different hosting service we provide. Less than a month after we completed testing, we had all our data from the SiteGround Shared, VPS, Dedicated and Backup servers hosted in the new facility. I really can’t miss to say thank you to the whole team of SiteGround system administrators that demonstrated brilliant organization, efficiency, and excellence of work during this transfer! You guys were the best!

To sum it up, the new DC has met our expectations completely! I hope that sharing this experience with you will help you understand and appreciate the new service as well.

Tenko
The SiteGround Mastermind

Author: Tenko Nikolov

The SiteGround Mastermind

For the last few years Tenko Nikolov has been one of the masterminds behind the success of SiteGround. He has come up with multiple successful strategies for overcoming technical problems and has achieved real business results for SiteGround. His vision and skills have made SiteGround a leading host in terms of technology and platform reliability.

Comments (12):

  1. Paul Romo says:

    This is amazing!, and the web hosting is working great!.

  2. Matt Kassirer says:

    Very cool to hear you describe your experience investigating DFT CH1, and then moving forward on the move, while ensuring specs and safeguards met Siteground standards. You guys are super pro. It continues to be a pleasure using your services.

  3. Avrohom Gershon says:

    Very impressive! I live in Chicago too. But wouldn’t it be wise to have geographically diverse data centers?

  4. Jacques Coderre says:

    This was a very smooth transition. Never noticed any changes to the Siteground services. Good job.

  5. Andrew Gardiner says:

    And here I thought the CPanel was one of the best looking user interfaces for web hosting, you guys have gone the extra mile with the actual facility too! Truly, the sheer amount of technology, safeguards and securities, and additional hardware make for a pleasurable customer experience… and now I can totally “geek out” and show off the facility where my website is hosted!

  6. Geth says:

    I now know why I’ve been so impressed with Siteground – great work team.

  7. Kathleen says:

    Terrific I LoVe It…Siteground the best place for hosting to be found!!! Thats what I tell em :-)

  8. Maureen Meyer says:

    I wonder about a multi-geographic data center too. I had a client’s retail site go down for two days when their ISP’s data center roof collapsed in a hurricane. I’m sure you guys have a contingency plan though. Care to share?

  9. Valerie keller says:

    Controlling temperature is indeed key. I once visited a Data center where a bikini would have been more than enough! Thank you for this interesting article.

  10. Alin Steglinski says:

    woah… talk about DATA CENTER

  11. Werner Weiss says:

    Siteground is the best! Even when I connect from Europe!!! Thanks for your great service!

  12. Kuhinje says:

    Each cast I’m glad to spread, I recently you by and you have nothing but praise.

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