We often get questions at cocktail parties when people find out we work at a data center. They may ask us to explain colocation or to discuss the difference between a Private Cloud and the Public Cloud. The best offsite data backup practices are another popular topic. However, sometimes questions come from a darker place- “What really happens at your data center late at night?”

After the sun goes down and the workday is over, many of the IT systems hosted at CAPS’ Shelton data center are still quite active. Some client workloads run around the clock. For others there are peak periods and slack times. Regardless, most clients’ servers must be available 100% of the time.

“Does anybody work at the data center overnight?” is a typical question. Some clients come to the data center in the middle of the night to work. This is to minimize the impact on their customers as they modify systems. In other cases, they work at night because it is when they can get a block of time free from the distractions that beset an IT infrastructure professional.

Access and Security

Another question has to do with how security is maintained in the middle of the night. Of course, nobody can gain access to the data center, at any time, without proper credentials which must be established in advance. When clients arrive after hours they first must use the security card issued to them by CAPS to open one of the main doors to the building which are locked at night. All visitors are monitored by the guards at the central security desk and captured on the building’s video recording system.

Once inside the building, clients require their security card to pass through the data center’s main entrance. They then proceed through two more security card access doors before entering the data center itself. As clients move through the facility they are recorded by the data center video recording system. These videos are kept for 60 days for subsequent review if necessary.

Once inside the data center clients proceed to where their systems are located. They use the unique key they were issued by CAPS to unlock their cage or cabinet door to gain access to their systems. The support team at CAPS keeps a copy of these keys if lost.

Monitoring and Response

People also ask “What happens if an environmental alert is issued at night?” The systems that monitor electrical power, temperature, humidity, and internet service issue alerts in real-time to the system engineers responsible for maintaining the data center. These trained professionals all live within a half hour of the data center are on call 24/7/365. The CAPS engineers also are supported by a Network Operations Center which is staffed around the clock at company headquarters in Pearl River, New York.

As the cocktail parties extend into the wee hours we occasionally we get more whimsical questions. “Do we keep the lights on in the data center at night because aren’t servers afraid of the dark?” “No,” we answer patiently, “the servers are very accustomed to the dark.” To save energy, even during the day,  we turn on the lights in the data center only when somebody is on site.

Picture is of a full moon and the Heublein Tower in Simsbury, CT