http://www.zdnet.com.au/newstech/communications/story/0,2000024993,20262588,00.htm By Jeanne-Vida Douglas, ZDNet Australia 27 December 2001 "There are two ways to attack a data centre very quickly," says Richard Brown solemnly, as he leads the way through the dead mans zone. "The first is to kill the power, and the second is to attack the air conditioning." He stops for a moment before continuing the tour and points out some details which make it impossible to escape from the dimly lit metal and glass cell in which he stands. "It is called the dead mans zone because even if someone manages to get this far into the building, they won't make it any further, and they certainly won't be able to escape," Brown says. Built initially to house currency, the Hostworks data centre in the suburb of Kidman Park, Adelaide is a tribute to the profligacy of Timothy Marcus Clark, former head of the State Bank of South Australia. Nestled in a semi-industrial area, with minimum road signage, it is at once unassuming, virtually impenetrable and to this day an inspirational feet of excess engineering. Any William Gibson fan knows that information is the currency of the new age, and won't be surprised that what was built as a massive bank vault, now preserves the integrity of vast amounts of data. Triangular in shape, two of the sides house offices while the third, a large rectangular block if taken in isolation, contains two data centres, as well as the infrastructure to ensure that Web sites continue to function come fire, flood, natural catastrophy or foreign invasion. "The centre itself has a lot of contingency built into the design," Brown says, as his footsteps echo down a chilly concrete corridor in the labyrinthine bowels of the centre. Housed within the structure the air conditioning units take in air through cooling towers encased in armour, and draw water from no less than two totally separate water supplies, plus an onsite reservoir. "We maintain the centre at a permanent 17-19 degrees Celsius," says Brown. "And as the heat exchanges are located within the centre they are protected from both the natural elements, and from direct attack." Designed as a southern Fort Knox, the structure is earthquake proof, bomb resistant, and provides anti ram capabilities. Doors throughout the complex are secured with a Honeywell Access Control System, and staff working at the facility are supplied with a proximity card, which allows them access only to a specified area. Fire prevention and control is provided through a FM200 fire suppressant system under the floor, and dry pipe sprinkler systems. The data centres are also separated by reinforced walls designed to retard fire. Electricity is provided to the centre through three separate feeds from two different substations, and three massive UPS systems ensure that the power supply is both clean and constant. The contingency plan requires that two units be running simultaneously, in case of failure of a single unit. There are also three wet cell battery rooms, providing back up in case all three electricity feeds suddenly drop out and threaten the centre's operations. At the heart of the electrical back up is a spotless bright blue V16 twin turbo-charged diesel generator capable of supplying the centre with up to 1.8 Mw. "The generator set is started automatically if the power supply drops below the defined building criteria," explains Brown. "The engine is started by compressed air, and can be fed through two underground tanks, which combine to provide seven weeks capacity of Diesel." The generator is also started up every six weeks, to make sure it is fully operational at all times. However, unlike a jail or bank vault Hostwork’s data centre also has to provide more than 75 percent of Australia’s Internet users with regular access to the information hosted at the Kidman Park premises. To ensure this connectivity is maintained the centre also relies on three pipes which plug into different exchanges, in totally different parts of the state. While the business of protecting data is serious, Brown admits the Hostworks data centre is a thrilling place to work, and while he won't be drawn on the centre's capacity, he is confident the centre is large enough to host the companys forcast growth at least over the coming years. "We can increase our capacity by at least 300 percent before we have to think about moving," Brown says smiling. “So at this stage it looks like I will be coming down to start up the generator for some time to come" - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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