Doomsdata Preppers

You may be familiar with the reality show “Doomsday Preppers” from the National Geographic Channel which is running its third season displaying survivalists, or “preppers”, preparing for “the end of the world”. The show interviews in detail about the actions taken to prepare against a number of circumstances such as natural disaster, economic collapse, societal collapse or military conflict. Each episode ends with an expert analysis and recommendations for improvements. Many would argue these preppers may be taking extreme measures in preparing for a doomsday. If you ask anyone that has survived such an event, they would agree that some level of preparation, whether it be education, training, storage of supplies, or adequate infrastructure, are key for survival.

In this episode of the Cirrascale Reality Blog, “Doomsdata Preppers”, you will see how a major motion picture company is preparing a preservation archive for their entire films database (old and current), to ensure that it could survive a loss of one to three of their data centers.

Some of their requirements were to have the ability to store data in “real time” across a minimum of three continental plates. Some of these locations are remote places in which they would need some kind of standalone structure. It needed to be accessible from virtually anywhere in the world and access of the data still needed to happen if one the sites couldn’t be “readable”.

There are 4 major categories for the preparation of the Doomsday; we are going to match those for the Doomsdata preparation.

Capture

FOREST

The Cirrascale FOREST Container (Flexible, Open, Reliable, Energy Efficient, Scalable and Transportable) is based on a standard high cube intermodal ISO 40’ container which is a standardized box constructed of corrugated weathering steel. Typically, a container has doors fitted at one end, and is used for the safe, efficient and secure storage and movement of materials and products globally. “Intermodal” indicates that the container can be moved from one mode of transport to another (e.g., from ship, to rail, to truck) without unloading and reloading the contents of the container.

Basically these containers are very strong, durable and sealed to keep weather effects out. Cirrascale improves all these categories by re-enforcing the box and treating the steel inside and out to prolong the life of the container by twenty plus years.

FOREST Box

Figure 1

For your piece of mind, this box has standard features such as security, seismic and EMI (Electromagnetic Interference) controls that meet or exceed three lettered federal government agencies.

In your data center, you don’t want the humidity level to be too low because it would build electrostatic energy within. Also, it can’t be too high because it would cause condensation which is not good for your electronic systems. In FOREST, humidification and de-humidification controls systems are also included to prevent such issues from occurring.

The deployment of this shelter is very easy; you could drop it in place and be up within hours. The FOREST Container comes with a telecommunications panel that is accessible from outside, and cooling and power distribution that are already integrated within. The container accepts vertically cooled blades, as well as standard (front-to-back and side-to-side cooling) rackmounted equipment. It is ideal for your blend of computer, data storage and networking equipment needs.

Basically, we could help our film making friends by shipping five FOREST Containers virtually anywhere in the world.

Efficiency

When you talk about efficiency you may first think, “power!”, but there is more to it. The FOREST Container has won several awards for its green initiative implementations and energy efficiency levels.

Power: Over 96% of power transfer efficiency within the container.

Cooling: The refrigeration units don’t use compressors, but a revolutionary passive, highly efficient refrigerant-to-water heat exchange tank system. These actively monitor humidity levels to avoid condensation build up in the data center. The container is insulated all around on its inside walls to help maintain keeping heat out and cool air in. There is not a “Hot Aisle” as you can see in Figure 2 below. The heat is quickly removed from the air when comes out of the racks taking complete advantage of Cirrascale’s Vertical Cooling Technology (VCT).

FOREST Thermal Temp Legend

Figure 2

Space: Notice in Figure 2 how the area under the racks (where the “I” beams are located) is used for air passage and the same for the area near the ceiling. Racks are stacked side by side from one end of the container, utilizing over 90% of the container length for IT, while the rest is only at one end holding power distribution, fire suppression, refrigeration units, monitoring systems, controls, humidifier, de-humidifier, etc.

FOREST Utility Space 1

Figure 3

 
FOREST Utility Space 2

Figure 4

Processors: As we know, the less heat a processor generates the more efficient and productive it can be. With superior cooling you can expect more out of your processor.

Redundancy

In addition to the above, various levels of redundancy are key for a good preparation.

The FOREST can accept two main power feeds (400VAC or 480VAC) which can be distributed through two breaker panels. One line per panel is supplied to each carriage where the bulk redundant rectifier array provides the power necessary to run the systems inside. Refrigerant pumps are redundant on each high capacity refrigerant units as well.

For this particular customer, having five locations across at least three different continental plates was a VERY safe way to have plenty of redundancy. The storage software would provide a virtualization layer enabling a redundancy within each FOREST Container and permiting the recovery (reconstruction) of data from any two sites available.

Security

Like the other categories, the security can be built using multiple levels, from the hardware to the software. The container’s access is controlled and monitored by key card readers and CCTV. In case someone would gain access to the hardware, the data stored at one site in not good by itself. Even if someone had access to two of the sites, you still would need the Erasure code and key to figure out how to tie and reconstruct the data. This provides the ultimate level of security for this type of data.

These are just a few areas in which you could become a Doomsdata Prepper. There are many other ways in which we could help and we want to hear what you are preparing for. Let us know below in the comments.

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4 Comments

  1. Thanks for the comment Paul!
    I always imagined it but never thought that someone was actually doing it. I was kind of excited to see this.

  2. Good article. Always good to see new DR strategies.

  3. Thanks Mike! As you know, this was a extremely complex configuration at all levels, and I barely scratched the surface. These are the fun ones!

  4. Wow! Excellent example of how Cirrascale is helping company’s prepare for disaster recovery or even ensuring that their data isn’t lost between sites. I really like it. Well done.

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