Nashville Has a New Datacenter

On Wednesday, I toured Nashville’s newest datacenter, with Ryan Burtch, a Sr. Solutions Consultant for Windstreams. Located in Franklin, TN, Windstreams Hosted Solutions just finished building a 21,000 sq foot Tier-III facility with the services of Compass Datacenters. Services include co-location, public cloud, and multi-tenant storage services, along with a 24/7 NOC and ad-hoc help.

Windstreams, who is no stranger to datacenters with 19 other locations across the US, opened this datacenter last week (the week of June 10th), expanding their co-location presence in the country. The most unique and fascinating attribute to this building is that it is modular. Each “pod” is 21,000 sq feet, with 10,000sq ft of raised-floor space (11,000 sq foot is for office/utility space). Currently, this location is 1 pod of 5, which means 4 more can be added on with the same specs. Talk about easy expansion. That would give this location a “possible” 50,000 sq foot of server space at maximum build-out.

As you first walk into the building, you will be greeted by a security guard behind bullet-resistant glass and kevlar enforced walls. For me, the 2-factor bio security system would be enough to deter me, but, better safe than sorry. This station will be manned 24/7/365 starting the week of June 24th, and will be your only way into the datacenter. After you have verified your credentials, the guard will escort you to your cabinet, or cage, and unlock them for you.

As we were walking the halls, it was interesting to see dry wall on one side (offices), and solid concrete on the other (datacenter). The building has been certified to withstand category 4 winds, and with the 36” raised floor, flooding is minimized as well. One of my favorite (embarrassingly so) points of interest was the loading dock. The dock is level with the rest of the land, with only a lift. Why my favorite? I cannot tell you how annoying it is to back up a consumer truck to the back of a full sized loading dock, and still, somehow, have to manage lifting/moving equipment. Here, just raise the lift to your vehicle, whatever the size, move the equipment on it, and lower it. Easy.

After the loading dock, there is a staging area where you can rack, build, configure, or just simply check your equipment before walking into the server-filled room. The DC floor is the usual setup. Hot/Cold aisles with cool air pumped under the floor and a hot-air plenum above to recirculate it. One thing I thought was interesting was that this room was still A/C driven, rather than chillers. I’m no DC architect, so I’m not sure the advantages/disadvantages of it, but thought it was different. Cooling is powered by 4 120-ton A/C units mounted on the roof. Photography was not permitted in the building, but who needs it? It’s a regular datacenter.

When I first heard that this location was the only Tier-III location in Nashville, I thought to myself, “Surely not”. But, as I was doing some “google’ing”, I couldn’t find anything to argue the point. When I asked Ryan what made this location so different than the other offerings in the area, he said “apart from the category 4 winds rating, it’s because we have 2 separate power distribution rooms. There is no single point-of-failure with power”. Pretty cool. I guess I just never asked before. Of course, in order for a “certification” to have value, the organization handing it off must also have respect/value. Otherwise, I can award my site a “blogger certified” award from the organization of “Aaron”.

There are lots of specs I can give you on this datacenter, but it’s best you read up on it yourself, like redundant OC-192 links, and carriers such as XO and Level3. Suffice it to say, I will sum up my “perceived” differences to Peak10 in Nashville here:

  • Fire Suppression – Windstreams uses multi-zone dry pipe throughout the facility. Peak10 uses dry-pipe and FE25. Granted, FE25 is expensive and costly to maintain, but fast acting without corroding or leaving residue.
  • Power – Peak10 has only one feed of power, whereas Windstreams has two. Also, it’s worth noting, that Windstreams is also built beside a power station, giving them the first leg of power from it.  That’s not to say that Peak10 doesn’t have redundant power systems, they do.  But, only one feed.
  • Security – You must check in and be escorted at Windstreams. Peak10 gives you 2-factor bio authentication, and you can enter/leave as you please (with auditing logs from their portal).
  • Environmental – Winstreams is certified to withstand category 4 winds. Peak10 does not publish their ratings.
  • Design – Windstreams was built from the ground up to be a datacenter. Peak10 was built from office space.
  • Showers! Okay, this doesn’t fit as a bullet item, but it’s still cool! While not a requirement, I cannot tell you how nice a shower is, after working an “all-nighter” at the datacenter, to feel refreshed and ready to “get back to it”. Windstreams has them. Peak10 does not.

Overall, I’m still very pleased with my Peak10 services. I don’t recall ever having a failure. Peak10 has conference rooms and free Keurig coffee. But, while Peak10 is expanding very fast, with lots of new installs every day, I am starting to feel like a small mouse in a large hen house, as I am still waiting on a simple question that I’ve asked twice in 2 weeks.

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