Interview: how our data center was born

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    Paskelbta: 2021-12-13 | Atnaujinta: 2021-12-13 | Parašė: Toma | Užtruksite: 8 min.

    We asked Vytautas, the operation manager of the data center of our subsidiary RackRay, to share his knowledge and experience about the place where your data is stored. He agreed to tell us how the Interneto vizija and RackRay Data Center (DC) were born, what challenges they faced, and what lessons were learned in creating and managing one of the most modern data centers in the Baltics.

    Vytautas is one of those who spend most of their time in the data center, so he knows all the corners of DC no worse than his home. He ensures the smooth operation of data center infrastructure systems and oversees improvement, engineering and development projects.

    Could you briefly tell us how it all started? When was the decision made to develop a new data center? What did this process look like? Was it difficult to take care of such a project?

    As the demand for our services and resources grew, so did the number of customers. As one of the most important goals of the company is stability and uninterrupted provision of services, we realized that we will not be able to bring our services to the next level without our own data center. There is a clear goal to create an infrastructure that would improve the quality of our services.

    The design and construction process took about 2 years and started with the main strategic step – choosing the location of the data center. The potential location had to meet not only such conditions as the right geographical location, the right environment to build infrastructure, but also the ability to bring in communication inputs and build complex technological facilities.

    In order for the data center to function properly, we had to take care of the installation of many engineering elements and their interoperability. In fact, it was a big challenge.

    Finally, in 2015, on December 15, the data center was opened.

    Do you remember the day the first servers were connected to the data center? What was that feeling like?

    Of course, I can even show you where these particular servers are right now. 🙂 I really remember that configuring and connecting the first servers was a really important moment. At that time, the whole team clearly understood that this was the beginning of new challenges – to ensure the top quality service.

    Could you tell us more about DC and its technical features?

    First of all, our data center is designed and built according to the Uptime Institute standard for Tier III data centers. This means that we ensure continuous server availability at least 99.95% of the time.

    Besides, we have a certificate confirming this! We are officially certified and visible on the map of such global data centers. This is a great achievement and at the same time a great proof of how much we value security, reliability and quality assurance of the services we provide.

    Ours is one of the most modern data centers in the Baltic States, with 139 server racks. In the future, it can be expanded more than three times, to up to 450 server racks.

    We have installed one of the most efficient air conditioning systems in the entire region. Precision control air conditioners supply outdoor air and, by mixing it with the air in the server room, ensure the most favorable environment for the operation of all active equipment. Before choosing this technology, we also took into account the climatic factors prevailing in our country. As practice has shown, it is particularly suitable for obtaining the highest possible DC operating efficiency (PUE). So we are not only efficient but also environmentally friendly. 🙂

    We also paid a lot of attention to fire prevention. One of the systems installed in the data center is an early fire detection system. Basically, these are mechanisms that analyze the composition of all the air indoors and constantly record the change in particles in the air. The system is extremely accurate and sensitive, which allows you to respond in a timely manner and protect the data center from any possible fire before it actually starts.

    One of the most important DC criteria is the security of the building. Security guards guard the building 24/7, and the entire area is monitored by video cameras and a perimeter motion detection alarm.

    Let me tell you briefly about another technological detail – a device that activates the rights granted to a magnetic access card in order to enter any DC premises. This function is performed by a biometric iris scanner. Each member of the DC team has the rights granted to him/her individually, which allows for secure control of movement throughout the interior.

    This is it as far as a few interesting technological elements are concerned.

    What were the main challenges in building this data center?

    At the beginning, the most important thing was to find the right place.

    Another, equally important issue that needed to be addressed was the choice of all the technologies needed for the data center. We had to evaluate and decide what equipment we would use, also, what internal and external design engineering and communication solutions we would apply. In addition, I could mention the physical execution of the project itself. We supervised the execution of the work ourselves, and we also resolved the issues within the company, taking into account the recommendations of experts in the respective field. While this was a significant challenge, this involvement allowed us to actively monitor the DC installation process and tailor the data center itself to our needs and the needs of our customers

    Are there any fun stories or interesting facts about the data center?

    Actually, no fun stories about the data center have happened yet, and probably won’t – everything is tightly regulated and controlled to the smallest detail.

    Interesting facts? I find it interesting that the building where our data center is located has the status of a special building. During World War II, it housed a military factory. The structure of the building is exceptional, and the foundations and construction are of exceptional strength. We also have large electricity reserves and a large fenced area. What’s more, our data center is built on the principle of “building within a building” and has additional walls and ceilings.

    Now that the data center is running smoothly, what do you think should be the most important consideration when developing such a project and what should be the main focus?

    I would like to emphasize the following:

    -It is necessary to assess whether the location where the DC is planned is geographically attractive and strategically convenient. Also, to evaluate the possibilities of bringing and installing the necessary engineering and communication networks.

    – It is important to choose the most suitable equipment according to the DC model being developed. In our case, another important factor was the prevailing weather in the country, so we chose air conditioning equipment in such a way as to maximize the use of natural resources and use as little electricity as possible for the cooling process.

    – Another point that requires a lot of attention is the interconnection of equipment into one system. All technological DC parts are interconnected, but can function as separate system units if necessary. All of them communicate with each other and, if necessary, guarantee the smooth operation of technological solutions for prevention and provision of reserve resources.

    – It is difficult to avoid mistakes when implementing a larger project. Therefore, the development of the project begins with the calculations and the analysis performed on them. At the same time, drawings and graphic projections are indispensable. To reduce the likelihood of error or inaccuracy, attention must be paid even to the details that, if left unaddressed, could disrupt the entire installation process in the future.

    Let’s look to the future – do you think the need for data center services will only grow in the future?

    – Over the last 10 years, we have seen a clear pattern of growth in information flow. It’s a constant thing and this curve, I think, is just going to go up. Interestingly, this trend is influenced not only by industrial facilities, banks or business centers, but also by home users.

    Today, the Internet and its capabilities are gaining momentum. Even the simplest home appliances become accessible and controllable via the Internet. With the emergence of larger information flows, there is a natural need for IT centers where various types of information are both processed and stored.

    So, in the light of all the facts at hand, I can confidently say that data centers will become increasingly important strategic objects, and their volume and capacity will grow along with the growing amount of information in the world.

    We thank Vytautas for the interview and at the end of it we would like to express our happiness that we have such experienced members in our team who have not only theoretical, but also practical knowledge of all the nuances of DC operation. There is no doubt that professionals can answer any question that arises and ensure that everything in the data center works flawlessly.

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