Reaction to Data Center Tour

It was interesting to learn that the University of Michigan has a Data Center.  This was something I hadn’t really thought about before, but it makes sense that a university that produces so much data would need a secure place to store it.  Seeing the data center as a class, even if the trip was cut short for me and a few others due to an exam, was a worthwhile experience.


The key concept I got out of the tour was redundancy.  There were back ups for everything: pumps, chillers, pipes, generators, and batteries.  Literally everything that could go wrong had a back up system that guaranteed the system’s reliability.


The theme of redundancy was also evident when I toured one of Ford Motor Company’s data centers as an intern there this past summer.  On the intern tour over the summer, some of the interns in Information Technology were allowed to take half a day off work to go into some of the most secure areas in Ford to see how Ford’s data is stored. 


The Ford tour was kind of backwards from how our tour of the North Campus Data Center.  We started in the server room and spent a lot of time looking at where the electricity comes and how the servers were stored.  There they even had two power cords to each rack, so that if one failed there was another source of power.  We also opened up the floor to see all the wires and cooling system below.  Because I had to leave early from our class tour, I’m not sure if this was also covered on North Campus, but at Ford we also looked at their security and fire protection systems in the server room.  After the server room we also looked at chillers, generators, and battery systems much like we did on North Campus.  However, on the Ford tour we also went to observe the control rooms and talked to the people that were working there.


It was neat for me to be able to compare the two data centers and see how similar they really were.

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