28 June 2005

ArachNet's shiny new co-lo facility

Drove near ArachNet today, so I dropped in to look at their shiny new Malaga co-lo facility.

They’re seriously interested in never having the thing go off the air.

They now have 70Mb of microwave to QV.1, plus a gigabit of fibre (and the fibre supplier’s so happy with their layout that they’ve dubbed ArachNet the hub for pretty much the entire northern suburbs industrial belt) plus last-ditch copper backups.

In their default configuration, the microwave link is dedicated just to WAIX traffic, doubling as an emergency uplink in case some maniac puts a backhoe through the fibre. Which means that WAIX traffic is now free for colocated boxes.

The power arrangements are also impressive. They’re right next to several sets of big wires (we’re talking insulators longer than you are) and have become the local power hub as well (all of the dark green boxes for the block live inside their fence, and power for nearby industries is drawn from there).

If the wires go dark, their UPS will run all of the racks, fully provisioned, for well over an hour — but five seconds after the power goes away, a diesel genset with a motor several times the size of my van’s kicks in. This genset can — at need — power all of the adjacent buildings as well (in fact, it will be driving a dummy load even with fully populated racks), and is fuelled for several days of that.

The whole thing reminds me of a spaceship module. Fireproof walls and doors, two airconditioners each thrice the size of our ’fridge at the business end and each capable of independently carrying the entire facility, with headroom. It’s on a well-drained sand-based gentle slope a long way from any rivers, and everything’s elevated so neither flooding nor washouts are going to be an issue. The nearest roads are some distance, one fence and three thick concrete walls away, the facility and the entire premises are independently secured and alarmed. It looks like a server’s idea of paradise.

They have some unique racks, too. A large steel member, part of the building’s structure, runs along the top of one row of racks, so they sawed the cabinets off at the base, and shortened them about 8 inches to make it all fit, and welded them back together. They have the only 42-unit racks that they know of.

The number of random servers one needs to provide to run a substantial ISP is truly amazing, even with the traditional multi-purpose nature of Unix (most of the servers are Linux). One entire row of racks is taken up with just their internal servers plus one aircon. Another row of racks is taken up with two entire smaller ISPs, the other aircon and the personal servers of staff and related businesses.

It’s good news for Linux, too, because in a few weeks, one of those humming boxes is finally going to become a reliable, regularly updated WA mirror for stuff amounting to several times the entire storage of LinuxAus’ main server, starting with a complete Debian mirror ’coz they use it extensively themselves. And if all goes well, I get to admin it.

In about a fortnight, decisions will be made about what goes into the first round of mirroring. The idea is to provide a service to WA users, particularly ArachNet’s but including anyone on WAIX. Due to some bad past experiences with gamers, they’re not interested in having anything connected with commercial games on it, and other than the Debian set there’s not much point in duplicating things LA’s already mirroring on their (our) server kindly colocated at AceOnLine (no, not the roller-coaster enthusiasts), but other than that they’re open to suggestions, so email me any you have.

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