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Milton Keynes

MKDC-0 Data Centre Tour

Build Blog

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bullet point March 1st 2013

Key fibre and bandwidth partners.

We can now formally announce the names of our first key fibre/connectivity partners at the Milton Keynes Data Centre.

Although there was a wide choice of fibre providers near to the new Milton Keynes data centre there were three which had an advantage over most of the other providers as these three were each also able to provide multiple diverse routes into the site. Two of these providers were selected several months ago and both of these companies have been performing extensive work within the site and also the surrounding area and now have live circuits into the data centre.

The result is we now have two providers who between them have four diverse routes into the building (more or less from four different sides).

We are taking one circuit from each provider (Initially 10Gbs from each one) for our own Managed internet Access and MPLS network but this also means that if customers prefer to purchase their own dedicated or point to point circuits they can choose from two separate providers who can each give them a guaranteed diverse route or instead they could take one route from each provider if they prefer to split the circuit vendors.

Although there are other providers available in the area these providers will have a big commercial advantage as they already have a physical POP within the facility. One of the providers (see below) can also offer managed Internet access (multi-homed bandwidth) direct from the data centre as an alternative or in addition to our own offerings.

NB: We have also taken the opportunity to lay our own secure ducts out to the site perimeter in several directions so if additional fibre is brought into the site form alternative providers the civil work within the site is already complete.

# Provider 1 – Vtesse
Vtesse have a full physical POP within each of our Meet Me rooms which are linked to two diverse routes into/out of our data centre. They can offer diverse MPLS circuits and also dedicated fibre circuits from 10Mbs to 10Gbs and beyond. Vtesse can also offer managed Internet access (multi-homed bandwidth) which they can offer direct form within the data centre either as an alternative

to our own managed internet access giving our customers a provider independent alternative if they wish.

Vtesse also operates a UK WAN, which connects more than 50 key data centre sites in London and across the South East of England. They can provide circuits and dedicated waves to either primary London/Docklands-based facilities for disaster recovery or back-up operations or various other uses or as part of a national Ethernet hosting solution.

The management and organisation of the diverse dig and every other aspect so far has been highly impressive so we are delighted with this choice and also the added options they can offer our customers.

# Provider 2 – BT OpenReach
Pretty much a ‘no brainer’ as connecting our facility direct to Openreach via two separate main exchanges gives us substantial connectivity options both locally and also nationally.

‘Locally’ because as a full CP (Communications Provider) ourselves we can deal direct with Openreach for local circuits at very competitive prices and ‘Nationally’ via BT Openworld however this fibre can also be used as tails with more or less any other provider if the provider in question prefers to use existing fibre or they do not have their own fibre nearby.

BT already had two separate fibre routes into the building from two separate main exchanges however they have performed extensive additional work in the immediate vicinity introducing an additional new large capacity fibre cable into the site. This cable is capable of supporting 146 separate fibres each one capable of supporting up to four separate waves of up to 10Gbs. The second route is also being upgraded shortly and this too will have provision for 146 separate fibre connections as well.

NB: According to the Openreach installation engineers this was the first non BT facility they had installed this volume of fibre cables into!


bullet point February 28th 2013

Man Trap

Anti Tailgating portal installed and working.

The Anti Tailgating portal at the entrance to the main data hall corridor has now been installed, commissioned and is fully operational.

For those not already familiar an Anti-Tailgating portal (also known as a man trap) they are very high security access control systems which restrict access and ensure that each person has to present their credentials before gaining access ensuring that only authorised persons have access to the area and an accurate audit is kept of visitors.

By only allowing one person through at a time they ensure that only those authorised can access the secure data centre areas. On presentation of an access control card/fob the automatic door of the unit opens to allow access inside the unit. Once inside, the unit uses volumetric sensors to detect the presence of a user, only allowing access to the secure side if the user is alone and authorised.

A special program and procedure has also been installed for disabled access.

Note: The main problem is stopping the technicians from playing in it and in particular making Star Trek door opening noises every time the doors open and close. We imagine that the novelty will wear off after several......years.


bullet point February 18th 2013

Completion of technical build.

The technical build is now complete!

Both of the additional fibre circuits are also installed and working however they will not be deemed to be fully operational until we have monitored them for a few weeks and also one provider has completed an additional monitoring circuit and the other some scheduled maintenance on their network.


bullet point February 8th 2013

Milton Keynes Data Centre - Build Progress

We are pretty much ready to host data now. The first main large data hall (DH-1) is now ready with the racks all in place and both sets of cooling, power and network all ready and working.


The only things needed to host data are the second fibre feed (due to be completed next week) and also some additional work on the UPS systems synchronisation panel so we are very nearly ready to go now.

The following (slightly shaky) video shows how close we are by showing everything in place and working. For example in this you can see both sets of air handling units operational and also the power from both feeds (Blue and Orange) and also a test server in one of the racks which is connected to both power feeds and also the outside world via the first fibre connection which is in place and working.

Once the last few bits are completed next week we will turn our attention to some of the other cosmetic finishes and work on rooms which are not core to the service (for example the kitchen and dining rooms and reception) .


bullet point February 7th 2013

UPS Systems

The following video shows one of the UPS rooms (UPSR-2/Blue feed).

Both UPS rooms are now operational and connected. Each room supports one of the two diverse power feeds.

These rooms will supply the UPS service for the first phase with additional rooms (one per feed) added for future phases.

* This video was taken during testing ie before they were put online.


bullet point January 28th 2013

General update

We are now getting to the final stages for the operational aspect of the first phase of data racks.

More or less all the main aspects are now complete (or due to be complete within the next few days) with just the commissioning of both UPS systems (due this week) and also the final stages of the fibre installations and also the fire suppression installation to go.

Once these are complete we will start on some of the cosmetic/ additional finishes such as the reception and carpeting and also the second entry gate.

We are also adding a man trap door at the gate way to the data hall areas (the aperture and additional fire doors for the man trap unit are already prepared at this end so we are just awaiting installation and commissioning of the unit itself which is due the middle of next month).

Not long to go now!


bullet point January 12th 2013

Update - Rack level power distribution almost complete.

This shows the individual tap off points and that there is no messy wiring.
This shows the individual tap off points and that there is no messy wiring.
Racks in place and ready to go with bus bars on top.
Racks in place and ready to go with bus bars on top.

The final part of the power distribution structure which is the power feeds to the server racks themselves is now almost complete.

The rack power will be supplied via A + B high level bus bars.

This type of system enables an individual power tap off point to be added or removed whist the bus bar is live and also for different power sizes and presentation options to be added or amended as needed all within a matter of minutes.

Each tap off point can either give single or three phase power and also different power sizes. This means that for full racks a wide range of combinations can be offered and if the requirements change amendments can be made very quickly.

For example the default presentation for a full rack is 32 amp commando sockets (from one or both power feeds as selected) however if the preference was for each tap off point to have two 16 amp feeds instead then this is easy to accommodate either at the point of order or later. The same would also apply if 64amp feeds were needed or three phase power direct to the cabinet (or any additional custom requirements).

The cost of this power presentation system was more than 50% compared to the other options available but the flexibility and neatness sold us on investing in this system.

One of the other major benefits is that the breakers/fuses are not hidden under the floor and hard to reach or located within a cabinet with hundreds of other breakers but instead are located directly over each rack so in the event that a breaker did trip it is very easy and quick to locate the tap off point which feeds each rack (just look up) and then either investigate or reset it.


bullet point January 11th 2013

Core switches ready

The core switches in 'Meet Me Room 1' and also 'Meet Me Room 2' are powered and being tested.

In the bottom of the image of the core switch (bottom left) you will see the labels for the Blue and Orange power feeds. If you look close you will see that when this picture was taken this core switch was being tested running just on the Orange feed.

We have also included a picture of one of the patch panel racks (bottom right). Cabling to the first phase of racks is due to start next week.

One of the core switches in Meet Me Room. One of the patch panel racks in one of the Meet Me Rooms.
One of the core switches in Meet Me Room. One of the patch panel racks in one of the Meet Me Rooms.

bullet point January 10th 2013

Gate access control and video intercom for new data centre

Access control and video Intercom for front gates and long range reader below it.
Access control and video Intercom for front gates and long range reader below it.

The first electric gate is now linked to our access control systems and the video intercom has been added and is operational as well.

In the picture you will see a large box below the intercom which has a built in normal fob reader. This is a long range reader so we can offer the option of having a long range fob to operate the gates without having to lower the vehicles window for added security and convenience.


bullet point January 6th 2013

Scary secret revealed

Scary Senior Network Admin
Scary Senior Network Admin

Turns out it was not a ghostly apparition after all, just a ghostly senior network admin exploring one of the tunnels. :~)


bullet point January 4th 2013

Scary sight!

Scary sight at the data centre in Milton Keynes
Scary sight at the data centre in Milton Keynes

Whilst photographing the outside of some of the unexplored underground ducts we didn’t notice at the time the following scary sight. OMG!


bullet point December 22nd 2012

Racks start arriving

Rack construction starts
Rack construction starts

17 of the first 24 racks have arrived. The remaining racks and also the cold aisle containment and the new design of front doors will arrive soon.

We designed our first racks and cold aisle containment pods for our Bletchley data centre over five years ago (we were quite early to adopt this approach) however we have identified some improvements for the pod and also the racks themselves which are being incorporated into the new racks.

NB: Our racks are customised and developed to our exact specification by the manufacturers we use


bullet point December 21st 2012

Network update

The Meet Me rooms are more or less complete now.

Both of the Cisco core switches for each network are installed with the supervisor now also added.

Work is progressing on the distribution level to the main data halls for both the high level and low level networks.

Both networks exit the MeetMe rooms and enter the data halls via fire rated and air sealed specialist cable pathways.

High Level network - High level cable tray is being installed at the moment in the main Data Hall.

Low level network - Ducts to securely transfer the network cables from the core switches in the Meet Me rooms (which is already in the secure data area) is being routed within sealed metal trunking for additional security and fire protection.

High level network cable trays in Data Hall 1 (From Meet Me Room 2). One of the fire rated cable pathways can be seen on the left side Low level network metal ducts between Meet Me Room 1 and Data Hall
High level network cable trays in Data Hall 1 (From Meet Me Room 2). One of the fire rated cable pathways can be seen on the left side Low level network metal ducts between Meet Me Room 1 and Data Hall

bullet point December 20th 2012

Airedale Aircon Commissioned

Airedale free cooling pipe work running under the building via one of the access tunnels
Airedale free cooling pipe work running under the building via one of the access tunnels

The Airedale units for Data Hall 1 (DH-1) have now also been commissioned so both sets of air con (Stulz and Airedale) are ready for use.

The Stulz air con back up DX units are routed high level to one part of the building and the Airedale units routed low level to a totally different part of the building.

NB: As this is Tier IV specification the air con cost just for this hall (DH-1) will be around £250k


bullet point December 7th 2012

Stulz air handling units.

The Stulz units are being commissioned today at the new Milton Keynes Data Centre.

Currently they are testing them to full capacity via a heat load in the room.

It may be cold outside but it is nice and warm in here today (until the units are fired up at least). 88.7F Taken a few minutes before but showing the temperature in Centigrade (31.2C).
It may be cold outside but it is nice and warm in here today (until the units are fired up at least). 88.7F Taken a few minutes before but showing the temperature in Centigrade (31.2C).

bullet point December 6th 2012

General update

There are lots of minor things happening at the moment but also some of the larger aspects of the project too.

Air con
The Stulz DX units and pipe work is installed and currently being commissioned. The Airedale units and pipe work is more or less finished too with just an expansion tank needed for the commissioning to begin.

Power
The power cabling from both the plant rooms to the local power distribution room has been completed and both UPS rooms are ready for the UPS systems (due to arrive within the next 14 days). Once the UPS systems are in place the only thing remaining for the power aspect is the rack level power.

Racks and Rack level power
The high level rack bus bars and tap off points are already here so we are just awaiting the first rack pod to arrive (due in next 14 days) so the bus bars can be installed on top of the racks.

Meet Me/ Comms Rooms
Almost complete. Core switches are installed with just a few things to complete them.

Fibre
The fibre connections have now all been ordered and work has begun to extend a couple of the site ducts to give us FOUR different diverse routes into the site from each direction. We also have some exciting news about a major fibre provider who is providing a diverse connection from the site onto their network and will also offer circuits and also on site multi homed transit direct to our customers if they wish an alternative to our own managed transit options. The contracts have already been signed but we will jointly announce this in the next couple of weeks.


bullet point November 16th 2012

General update

Lots of activity at the moment. For example

-The Main data Hall 1 aircon installation is advancing well for both the A and B sets (Stulz and Airedale).

-Linking both the A and B plant rooms to the first suite level dedicated power distribution room (PDR-1) is also advancing well.

-The generators Deep Sea auto changeover panels have been tested this week and are now working and tested for various different power failure scenarios. For example;

'HV power feed A' failure (mains power remains for Plant room B but primary generator 1 starts and supplies power to plant room A).

'HV power feed B' failure (mains power remains for Plant room A but primary generator 1 starts and supplies power to plant room B).

'HV power feed A and B' failure (Primary generator 1 starts and supplies power to both plant room A and also plant room B).

All of above but then generator 1 fails to start so secondary Generator 2 starts instead.

Then, as above but generator 1 starts but then fails after initially starting so generator 2 then starts instead. Then, generator 1 starts but then fails so generator 2 starts but then it fails so the two systems try generator 1 again etc etc.

Obviously the chance of both HV supplies failing and also the primary Generator also failing to start is very remote but this testing ensures that the two changeover control panels can cope with any eventuality (including losing communication with each other in which case both generators will start and both plant rooms then independently select the first feeds to reach them). Phew!

NB: All tests were completed successfully on the first live time of test of each of the above scenarios (thanks to Ken who programmed the solution).

In the right corner we have Airedale free cooling units and in the left corner we have Stulz DX units. Round 1... Plant Room A (PR-A) almost complete. Dual Deep Sea generator auto changeover control panels.
In the right corner we have Airedale free cooling units and in the left corner we have Stulz DX units. Round 1... Plant Room A (PR-A) almost complete. Dual Deep Sea generator auto changeover control panels.

bullet point November 8th 2012

Aircon - System 1 external chiller install

Data Hall 1 has two sets of aircon (N+N) one set of Airedale free cooling chillers and one set of Stulz DX units (ie backup).

This is the installation of the first Airedale external unit.

This also reveals the plan for the original diesel tank bund (pedestal to raise and support the external free cooling chiller units).

The Stulz external units will be located in a totally different building location to maintain as much diversity as possible.

First Airedale chiller being lifted into position. Chiller lowered and fixed onto new girders across the original diesel tank bund.
First Airedale chiller being lifted into position. Chiller lowered and fixed onto new girders across the original diesel tank bund.

bullet point October 23rd 2012

Security gate No1 is installed.

The first of the two man trap security gates has now been installed with just some minor aspects to complete it.

Although it is not yet integrated with the access control systems it is working via remote controls for now.

The second gate will be added later and also a video phone and the access control stands, speed ramps and traffic lights.


bullet point October 19th 2012

General update - Phase 1 power structure upgrades

Upgrade work is almost complete in the external (Orange feed) plant room.

For example two new boards have been added to this room to enable this plant room to be powered by either of the Generators. Each generator also has its own independent Deep Sea control panel (rather than just one panel controlling both generators) and these are also now in place and awaiting commissioning.

The bypass panel for the Inside (Blue feed) UPS has also arrived and positioned in the Blue feed UPS room.

We have also included a picture of the one of the data centre corridors with the new PIR controlled LED lighting completed. The first main data hall (DH1) also has PIR controlled LED lighting which is now installed and complete.



External (Orange feed) plant room - Work in progress Inside (Blue feed) UPS bypass panel. Data centre corridor lighting completed.
External (Orange feed) plant room - Work in progress Inside (Blue feed) UPS bypass panel. Data centre corridor lighting completed.

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