How to Speak Like a Data Center Geek

Speak Like a Data Center Geek: Power Talk II

Jim Poole
Speak Like a Data Center Geek: Power Talk II

Equinix has had a nonstop power obsession for all of our 17 years. Every promise we make to our customers about keeping them simultaneously connected to the many markets and partners they need to succeed in the interconnected era depends on keeping the power on all the time, at every data center. That’s why we’ve chosen power-related terms for the 11th installment of the “How to Speak Like a Data Center Geek” series, our ongoing effort to make the language we speak a little more understandable to those who don’t yet speak fluent data center.

Six Nines: We used to talk a lot about the “five nines,” but we’re happy to move on to the “six nines,” because it speaks to our ability to deliver the reliability required to stay powered up and connected. The numbers refer to the percentage of power availability over a year, and it presumes that the system is required to operate continuously. Six nines (99.9999%) is now the global average uptime at our 105 data centers on five continents. It means we average less than 32 seconds downtime annually across our entire data center platform. We’d note that many of our data center sites never go down at all during the year.

AC/DC: Sure, a “Back in Black” reference might fit here, but the AC/DC we talk most about at Equinix isn’t about renowned Australian hard rock bands. Rather, it’s the two power options we offer customers, AC Power and DC power. AC stands for “alternating current,” meaning the electricity frequently reverses direction. With “direct current,” or DC power, the electricity travels through a circuit in one direction only. Each has different advantages. AC can be more easily changed into different voltages, and that can make it more efficient. But DC is more powerful over distances and has an edge in reliability. Right now, networking gear typically runs off DC power, while servers run on AC power.

Draw Cap: The term “no limits” has 22 million Google references, but it doesn’t apply to the power available at a data center. That’s where a “draw cap” comes in. A draw cap is a contractually determined limit on how much power our customers can draw, or use, in their cages (say 45 kilo-volt-amps, or kVA).

Power Density: A data center with high power density is simply handling more power in the same space as a lower-density data center. That ability makes a data center more efficient economically and environmentally because it delivers more network, compute, storage and service capacity in the same space as a competitor. The demand for high power density data centers is only rising, because enterprise IT power and cooling demands are increasing exponentially. (For more info, read the blog post by Equinix Global Solutions Architect Luke Harrison).

MSB (and other acronyms): MSB stands for a data center’s main switch board. At Equinix, each MSB is fed by two independent uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems, which modulate and control power flow. From there, the UPS systems feed automatic static transfer switches (ASTSs), which feed power distribution units (PDUs), which feed power to remote power panels (RPPs). The RPPs are what provide power to individual customer circuits.

To learn more about Equinix data centers, click the link, then keep clicking.

Also, we data center geeks have a thing for interconnection, since it’s essential for the enterprise to compete. Download Equinix’s IOA Playbook, which describes an interconnection-first architecture that securely connects people, locations, clouds and data.

And check out every post in the “Speak Like a Data Center Geek” series. (Please note: We welcome binge readers):

Part 1: Introduction

Part 2: Power I

Part 3: Connections I

Part 4: Cloud

Part 5: Buildings

Part 6: The stuff we sell

Part 7: Security and reliability

Part 8: Connections II

Part 9: Sustainability

Part 10: Networks

Part 11: Power II (see post above)

Part 12: Internet of Things

Part 13: Big Data

Part 14: Virtualization

Part 15: Virtual Reality

Part 16: Software Containers

Part 17: Artificial Intelligence


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Jim Poole Former Vice President, Business Development
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