I have to start by saying I was completely blown away by the trip to the data center on north campus. For some reason it was not as I expected. I am not sure if other individuals feel the same way but I was completely naive to how complex a data center truly is. I was under the assumption the data center would consist of racks of servers to maintain data as well as some sort of cooling system to regulate the temperature. Although these elements were present, I grossly underestimated their complexity.
As we were touring the facility I have to say I was most impressed with what the guide called “the heart” of the building. He was referring to the basement level of the building which housed the cooling tanks, emergency generators, power supply, cabling, and networking. Without these components the high tech server racks on the main floor would be worthless because they would overheat, etc.
Another aspect of the data center I found intriguing was how well detailed the building was. Every single pipe and equipment piece had a sign on it describing what it was. If a certain pipe carried water, there would be a sign with an arrow depicting it’s direction. To me this was fascinating and although some might see it as excessive I thought it generated a very thorough and detailed picture of the all the processes occurring.
The final part of the data center I was impressed with were all of the precautions to protect and preserve the data in the event of an emergency. Prior to the tour I was unaware the data center was part of the University of Michigan Health System. Due to this the data center had to follow certain protocols to ensure it could properly handle an emergency situation, such as a power outage or failed cooling tank. In order to protect against these situations, the guide commonly referred to having N+1 items. For example there would be 2 backup generators incase one failed. Surely this would be expensive to implement but also necessary.
As a final note I came across an article on CNN the other day which listed the best 100 jobs in america for 2012. A database manager ranked at number 5! I have attached the link below if people are interested.