Cisco IT has, as you may have heard, been shutting down some of its Data Centers. We’ve closed dozens of older facilities – some large, many small – in the past 10 years, consolidating into purpose-built rooms that better enable our business.

The latest to close was the company’s longest-running Development Data Center, located at Cisco headquarters in San Jose. It’s one of two server environments that I worked in daily when I joined Cisco in the late 1990s. Even after designing, working in, and touring many other facilities since, when someone talks about what a Data Center is that room still appears in my mind’s eye.

I took a final walk around the mostly-empty space recently. I hadn’t been in there in years and it was a bit like visiting my old high school. Things looked slightly smaller than I remembered, and several items triggered unexpected memories.

  • There are the tool kits we wall-mounted inside each room entrance.  The screwdrivers always went missing – people put them in their back pockets while installing hardware and then walked away with them. I would canvass the engineering department twice a month, to retrieve tools from everyone’s desks.
  • Ah, our first network substations. The raised-floor space was being expanded into a second room when I entered the Data Center for the first time. One of the contractors had bolted two of the network cabinets to the floor, upside-down. They were open, four-post cabinets with identical top and bottom panels, but I’m surprised the fellow didn’t notice the lockable casters pointed at the ceiling.
  • Here’s where there used to be portable, ambient temperature sensors. I would do a lap of the room and take readings from them two or three times a day. They were standalone devices and did little more than confirm or disprove when someone nearby felt the room might be getting warmer. And yet, they helped inspire the temperature sensor networks we subsequently created and have deployed in our Data Centers.

Nostalgia aside, it was interesting to view that old Data Center one last time.   Several design and operational practices we follow in our current Data Centers were first introduced there. Here’s a short video of my final visit and some of those practices.

Interested to see another vintage Cisco Data Center? Check out this profile of a legacy Data Center at headquarters that opened in 1998 and is still operating.