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.
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.
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.
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.
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