The Chronicles of Building Cisco’s Allen Data Center

Early in 2010 Cisco started construction on its greenfield data center in Allen, Texas. From inception, the goal was for this facility to embody our data center vision for consolidation, virtualization, cloud computing, and new approaches to power and cooling, uniquely done all under one roof.

There were many details and many stories, so Cisco on Cisco began chronicling the buildout of the Allen data center. In August 2010, we launched the video interactive called Data Center 2011-Texas, covering topics from facilities design to IT design and implementation. Through this journey, we have taken you inside the walls of the building as it progressed to hear firsthand from Cisco facilities managers, IT leadership, and IT architects who planned, designed, and now support the Allen data center.

The facility is 162,000 square feet, with more than 35,000 square feet of data hall and networking space. It’s been built to maximize use of the high-density Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) and Nexus switches, and other core IT technologies. This infrastructure has enabled Cisco IT to reduce costs and increase resiliency, and is the foundation for Cisco’s infrastructure as a service (IaaS) offering.

The data center also plays a significant role in our business continuity strategy, and is the second in an active-active metro virtual pair. This pair forms a dynamic IT services cloud and provides back up for each other. Plus, the Allen data center supports multitenancy, allowing Cisco IT to provide services for clients with diverse business requirements.

Cisco received U.S. Gold LEED certification by meeting third-party standards for the design and construction of an environmentally sustainable building. By integrating energy efficiencies from the ground up, along with technology, Cisco has yielded several ongoing benefits:

  • The airside economization system design ventilates the facility with outside air 50 to 60 percent of the time, freeing up demand on the chillers.
  • The onsite rainwater retention system, recycled water in the retention pond, and water-efficient fixtures conserve significant amounts of water annually.
  • The facility reduces power consumption by using rooftop photovoltaic panels, and interior and exterior LED lighting.
  • By using rotary UPS as part of the backup power system, Cisco avoids the ongoing, long-term maintenance costs associated with lead-based batteries.
  • Automated provisioning of IaaS (network, compute, storage, and OS) reduces delivery time of services from months to minutes, and reduces costs over 50 percent to internal clients.

Today construction of the Allen data center is complete, and we have enjoyed chronicling its buildout to share with you. To learn more about the facilities and IT infrastructure, we invite you to explore the Data Center 2011-Texas interactive.

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