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A Tour of Cisco’s Allen Data Center

As a consultant I have seen many different ‘Data Centers’, from Co-location facilities, to in house and well thought out, to a dirty closet that no one was using. Douglas Alger gave us a tour of Cisco’s Data Center in Allen, TX about a month ago. I was expecting to be impressed and I was not disappointed. Cisco has made a commitment to all of their Data Centers at least Leeds Silver certified. The Data Center in Allen, TX is Leeds Gold certified. Also, Cisco tried to use as much off the shelf components as possible so that this model can be replicated to every Data Center.

Outside of the Data Center building

When driving up to the Data Center it was not the usual look of a Data Center. You really have to know where you are going to find it. The building is surrounded by berms 15-20 feet tall. This is doubles as a camouflage for the building, but it’s primary purpose is to deflect tornados from hitting the building directly. If a tornado is heading for the building, the base would have to climb the berms which in turn would cause the tornado to ‘jump’ over the building.

The roof of the Data Center has a high level of wind tolerance, but the building is constructed in several layers. A tornado could take off several of these layers and the Data Center could continue to operate.

There are the typical barriers expected in a secure facility such as fencing, vehicle barriers, cameras, and a bicycle rack. Yeah, a bicycle rack. Part of the Leeds certificate is the ability for alternate modes of transportation to the office. Installing a bicycle rack and shower inside was an easy way to get additional points for the Leeds certification. Read More »

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Customer Insight: How one Cloud services provider reduced provisioning time by 50% with Cisco Unified Computing System ™ and FlexPod

What comes to mind when you think about the color blue? Whenever I think about the color blue in nature, I’m transported to the clear blue skies and turquoise ocean waves of Hawaii. For many people, the color blue has a restorative quality: It’s invigorating and puts us back in control of priorities. My affinity for “all things blue,” is why I was attracted to this story about Cisco customer, BlueWave Computing, LLC., a cloud services provider based in Atlanta, Georgia. BlueWave’s existing server and storage infrastructure had reached its limits and was creating performance and reliability issues. That’s when BlueWave decided it was time for a change. They worked with Cisco to reinvigorate their data center, making it ready for next generation of cloud services, and clearing the way for “nothing but blue skies ahead.”

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Cooling a High-Density Compute Environment

Cisco’s data center in Allen, Texas (DC2), was designed to make best use of the high-density Cisco Unified Computing System and Nexus switches. Cisco’s business requirement for high-density computing, supporting up to five Unified Computing System chassis per rack, essentially quadrupled the per-rack power requirements at Texas DC2 compared to target load requirements at our other data centers.
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Ice Ice Baby (Word To Your Data Center Manager)

How many ice cubes does it take to cool a server?

This week’s Data Center Deconstructed Q&A item isn’t quite phrased that way, but if you consider the history of refrigeration that’s the riddle we’re pondering.  It’s a good one to figure out; Data Center designers and operators face the issue daily as part of their mission to create efficient server environments.

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Cisco Data Center 2011-Texas: Saving Power, Cooling, Space, and People

Most data centers are challenged with the same cost control problems of power, cooling, space, and people. Illustrating that one x86 server can cost more than US$400 a year in just energy consumption, a 2009 Gartner study concluded that IT managers can combat rising costs by reviewing their data center strategies and proactively looking to consolidation, use of energy saving solutions, and strategic deployment of IT labor.  Our online chronicle, Cisco Data Center 2011-Texas, provides an inside look at how Cisco IT is tackling these challenges with a strategy that is reflected in our new facility, Texas Data Center 2.

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