In part one, we find out what a data centre is all about and what the Exitra Data Centre has to offer. In part two, we undergo the gauntlet of security to get past the data centre’s security perimeter. In our final part of our three-part feature we finally visit the inner sanctum of Exitra’s data centre. We finally find out what truly lies within.
Past another set of doors, I can see just why ISO 27001 was so elusive to achieve. Mr. Heng elaborate on the means to ensure that the data centre, which consists of over 3,000 square feet – effectively an entire floor of the building – remained up and running even in the face of all manner of mishaps. To wit, the Exitra Data centre is rated and guaranteed to offer 99.982% uptime which means everything short of a zombocalypse means it’ll keep running.
He first showed off a room that wouldn’t look out of place on a Star Trek set full of pipes laid out in intricate networks across the walls and ceiling along with a huge row of gas tanks. He explained that this was part of the cooling and fire suppression systems. In the unlikely event of a fire, the tanks, which are filled with argonite – a cocktail of argon and nitrogen – are released to snuff out any flames by cutting off oxygen without actually harming personnel or incurring damage to sensitive electronics.
The fire suppression system in turn is tied into an elaborate sensor network that monitors every aspect of the data centre and flags a potential problem, like for example a raging fire, to security staff. In the actual event of a crisis that’s too fast for human intervention, the fire suppression system is able to kick in on its own.
In the actual event of a crisis that’s too fast for human intervention, the fire suppression system is able to kick in on its own.
Mr. Heng Min Jum, the Exitra data centre manager points out several cables out of the intricate lattice running through the complex as we walk past the room that acted as power cables to feed power throughout the complex. According to Mr. Heng the data centre itself runs on power feeds through two separate power lines. Even if one goes down, there’s still another to provide backup power to ensure the entire data centre remains running.
Even if everything goes pear-shaped, the centre has not one but two diesel generators in the basement dedicated to keeping it running for up to a week. In terms of connectivity, he explains that the Exitra centre also has redundancies built in too with not one, but three dedicated lines from three different telco providers to ensure that it’ll remain running even if in the statistically improbable event that an entire telco network, let alone two are knocked out. The fact that the building possesses MSC status also means that it can take advantage of the fast fibre optic cabling running through the building for even faster data speeds.
The Inner Sanctum
We finally reach the final door. The last barrier to the server room. After all the elaborate security, it was almost anti climatic: a solid, sturdy glass door that beheld a room stacked with row upon row of server racks. It seemed oddly tranquil until i was ushered through the glass door. The server room itself was an unearthly experience to say the least.
Raised a foot above the floor over a network of cabling and air ducts, the entire room is studded with sensors to detect water, smoke heat and any other variable factors that could potentially damage the delicate server racks. Gusts of air ran through the room like a persistently strong breeze. This was due to a dedicated cooling system made by Emerson dubbed the Leibert PEX environmental control system that monitored and ensured that the ambient temperature in the server room never deviates beyond 22 to 25 degrees Celcius.
Mr. Heng raises a panel in the floor with a special tool, revealing that the environmental control system not only piped air from overhead but from below and behind each server rack as well. He opens up a rack for me to inspect, sliding out a nascent server that was being prepped to host a customer’s website in a few days. The hardware is all made by Emerson, which he assured me was the Rolls Royce equivalent for server side hardware. Even as we spoke, terabytes of data flowed in and out of the centre, status lights subtly blinking and flashing in rapid succession as a host of clients and their customers accessed data remotely or visited sites hosted at the data centre.
He added that while the Exitra Data centre helps to service the needs of the LBG Group, they also acted as a web hosting service and data centre provider with server space for lease as well as the ability to physically host a client’s servers too onsite as needed. At that, the visit was over as I was reissued my shoes and lead back to the sunlit lobby and normality before he disappeared back into the neon-lit, windy corridors of the data centre. If not for the visit, you’d never know that the digital backbone of some of Malaysia’s most important websites were hosted here.
Seeing their world-class standards both in the design and creation of their data centre, the centralised location of the LGB tower and its enviable MSC status, it looks like quite a tempting proposition indeed. And there’s that awesome coffee shop in the lobby too with the killer flat whites. To find out more about Exitra, please logon to www.exitra.com.my
Check out part 1 to find out just what a data centre is about here. To find out more about the layers of security protecting the average data centre, swing by here for part 2.