Visiting Netcetera

The Isle of Man branch of the BCS yesterday organised a tour of the Netcetera datacenter here on the Isle of Man. It was very well attended and we were given a pretty comprehensive tour of their facility. Their new £10 million data center has the space and capacity to host 700 racks of equipment, which is pretty impressive. The data center is manned 24x7x365 and is equipped with state of the art climate control, fire suppression and power equipment. Here are some of the things we saw:

This is one of their generators. The facility has multiple mains feeds, backed up with a number of generators which are continually kept “warm”. If a power outage occurs, the generators can come online within 30 seconds. The facility uses UPSs to bridge the time between the power outage and when the generators come online. They also keep 4 days worth of fuel for the generators on-site. The whole power/UPS/generator/power distribution setup is mirrored so that if any element breaks down, the system automatically switches to the alternative system.

The climate in the facility is kept at 21 degrees (+/- 1.5) at a relative humidity of 50%. They have an N+1 redundancy policy, but are planning to move to 2N+1 in the future.

The fire-suppression system is pretty comprehensive too. They have a VESDA (Very Early Smoke Detection Apparatus) system which works on a “double-knock” basis. This uses multiple elements to make sure that if there is a component failure, it won’t trigger off the system by mistake. In the eventuality of fire being detected, FM-200 is released into the room to starve the fire from Oxygen. The main advantage of FM-200 is that it extinguishes flames without necessarily killing any people in the room.

The physical security was also worth noting. Proximity cards are needed to move around the building, together with PIN codes. You need to go through an air-lock to get into the building and anyone without the right clearance is just not allowed in.

The visit was pretty informative, and it’s great to see this sort of setup locally. I might actually look at moving my hosting to their services, depending on how competitively they are priced. More about that later!

It was interesting to see the markets Netcetera are looking to tap into. Their core business used to be in web hosting, but with the inception of their data center they are also looking towards providing business continuity services to the local business community. It will be interesting to watch them grow in the future and I certainly will be keeping an eye on them!

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