Adventures in data center-ing #1


Over the last week, I’ve been involved in the move of a micro data center facility from one building across the parking lot to a second building. The facility consisted of three cabinets and associated equipment. Note that this installation hasn’t yet been converted to DC power (but it’s in the works).

Extension of the Internet uplink to the second building, disassembly and physical transfer of the equipment went spotlessly, then the fun started. Random pieces of equipment refused to power back up after being connected to the second building’s power circuits.

I pulled a malfunctioning server from the installation and brought it back to the office to troubleshoot. Strangely, this server powered up perfectly on the bench! I took the opportunity to update the BIOS and returned the machine to service where it promptly refused to boot again.

Further investigation revealed that the voltage on the power in the second building was only 105V vs 122V in the original building. Even though the server’s power supply was rated to work down to 100V, it simply would not operate the machine at 105V. The root cause of the problem turned out to be a loose neutral conductor on the electrical circuit.

So what were the lessons from this move?

Expect the unexpected and know that you can’t expect everything.

Infrastructure problems can masquerade as equipment problems.

Expect odd infrastructure problems from unimproved buildings.

Leave room in your plans to accomodate all of the above.

Finally, a little good detective work goes a long way!

Vern, SwiftWater Telecom
Data Center and Engineering Services

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