Starting a WISP: The paperwork side

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Equinix leaving 8 data centers

From the Foundations newsletter. https://www.foundations.email/

Equinix Departing Leased Data Centers – In an email to customers late last week, Equinix shared its intentions to not renew leases for 8 of its data centers across the US, including notable locations such as 56 Marietta in Atlanta, GA owned by Digital Realty and its space at 60 Hudson in New York, which I believe is on the 16th floor. The full list of sites along with final dates customers must move equipment out is below. AT2 in Atlanta, GA – July 31, 2024 
56 Marietta Street NW, 5th Floor, Atlanta, GA 
Owned by Digital Realty

AT3 in Atlanta, GA – July 31, 2024
56 Marietta Street NW, 6th Floor, Atlanta, GA
Owned by Digital Realty 

AT5 in Atlanta, GA – June 30, 2024 
2836 Peterson Place Northwest, Norcross, GA 
Legacy Verizon

LA2 in Los Angeles, CA – January 31, 2025 
818 W 7th Street, 6th Floor, Los Angeles, CA
Owned by Downtown Properties

NY8 in New York, NY – September 30, 2022 
60 Hudson St, New York, NY
Owned/Managed by Stahl/Colliers

SV6 in Silicon Valley, CA – April 30, 2022    
444 Toyama Dr, Sunnyvale, CA
Legacy Switch & Data, Owned by Digital Realty 

SV13 in Silicon Valley, CA – March 31, 2023
2030 Fortune Drive, Suite 130, San Jose, CA
Owned by H5 Data Centers

SV17 in Silicon Valley, CA – April 30, 2025
3030 Corvin Drive, Pod A, Santa Clara, CA 
Legacy Terremark

Vultr announces $150 million funding

Constant, the creator of the Vultr cloud computing and bare metal platform, has announced a $150 million credit facility from J.P. Morgan and Bank of America. This includes a $25 million uncommitted expansion option to accommodate future growth, and Constant will use the additional capital to expand its global footprint of automated cloud infrastructure to serve its rapidly-growing customer base. Constant claims it has become one of the largest cloud computing platforms in the world without ever raising equity financing. The Vultr platform was launched in 2014 and was built by developers for developers. More than 40 million cloud servers have been launched on the Vultr platform across nearly every country in the world.

Common ISP outage causes

Over the years I have been able to narrow the most common reasons a service provider goes down or has an outage. This is, by no means, an extensive list.   Let’s jump in.

Layer1 outages
Physical layer outages are the easiest and where you should always start. If you have had any kind of formal training you have ran across the OSI model.  Fiber cuts, equipment failure, and power are all physical layer issues.  I have seen too many engineers spend time looking at configs when they should see if the port is up or the device is on.

DNS related
DNS is what makes the transition from the man world to the machine world (queue matrix movie music). Without DNS we would not be able to translate www.j2sw.com into an IP address the we-servers and routers understand. DNS resolution problems are what you are checking when you do something like:

PING j2sw.com (199.168.131.29): 56 data bytes
64 bytes from 199.168.131.29: icmp_seq=0 ttl=52 time=33.243 ms
64 bytes from 199.168.131.29: icmp_seq=1 ttl=52 time=32.445 ms
--- j2sw.com ping statistics ---
2 packets transmitted, 2 packets received, 0.0% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 32.445/32.844/33.243/0.399 ms

Software bugs
Software bugs typically are always a reproducible thing.  The ability to reproduce these bugs is the challenge.  Sometimes a memory leak happens on a certain day.  Sometimes five different criteria have to be met for the bug to happen.

Version mismatches
When two or more routers talk to each other they talk best when they are on the same software version. A later version may fix an earlier bug.  Code may change enough between version numbers that certain calls and processes are speaking slightly differently.  This can cause incompatibilities between software versions.

Human mistakes
“Fat fingering” is what we typically call this. A 3 was typed instead of a 2. This is why good version control and backups with differential are a good thing. Things such as cables getting bumped because they were not secured properly are also an issue.

What can we do to mitigate these issues?
1.Have good documentation.  Know what is plugged in where what it looks like and as much detail as possible.  You want your documentation to stand on its own. A person should be able to pick it up and follow it without calling someone.
2.Proactive monitoring.  Knowing problems before customers call is a huge deal. Also, being able to identify trends over time is a good way to troubleshoot issues.  Monitoring systems also allow you to narrow down the problem right away.
3.When it comes to networking know the OSI model and start from the bottom and work your way up.

Books can and are written about troubleshooting,  This has just been a few of the common things I have seen.

Indiana Bell Building Moved in 1930

Between Oct. 12 and Nov. 14 1930 the eight-story 11,000-ton Indiana Bell building was shifted 52 feet south along Meridian St. and rotated 90 degrees to face New York St. Workmen used a concrete mat cushioned by Oregon fir timbers 75-ton, hydraulic jacks and rollers, as the mass moved off one roller workers placed another ahead of it. Every six strokes of the jacks would shift the building three-eights of an inch – moving it 15 inches per hour.

https://www.indystar.com/story/news/history/retroindy/2014/01/07/indiana-bell/4354705/

Data Center much needed “hacks”

Over the years I have worked in hundreds of data centers. The number is probably closer to 1,000 than 100. Each data center has its own nuances and policies. This varies by company but can vary by data center within the same company. It can be quite the tangled mess to keep track of. As I was sitting here not able to sleep I wanted to come up with a list of some things Data Centers should do to make tenant life easier. Some of these you can do yourself, and I do for many sites. Some of these overlap, but are important to mention a few times So let’s get into it

Don’t assume your customers know what is going on
Some of us don’t visit these sites very often. Many times it’s late at night when no one is around except security. Much of this list revolves around the things we don’t know which may be common knowledge for those at the data center everyday.

Pre-visit items
Do I need to open a ticket to access my equipment? Some facilities I have to. Others I don’t.

Have a published facilites and helpline
I ran into a situation today. I was visiting a site today and had to go through a turnstyle. Come to find out I was on the wrong floor, but I did not realize that until someone came to help. My cell phone was at 5% and I had to end up calling the business development guy to get ahold of someone. Those Sales guys know everyone!

Got my cart stuck in the turnstyle

Where to Park
This may be obvious if you work at the building every day, but to the occasional visitor, this can be confusing, and potentially costly. Data centers in downtown areas really need some sort of updated information on a website outlining this. Facilities near sporting arenas are the worst. It seems you need a decoder wheel on when and where you can park before and after games. Some cities are better at marking this than others. I once had to walk 10 blocks lugging a switch because I could not park near the data center due to a football game.

What doors are open at what times
If your building has multiple entrances keep an updated list of the hours of each door. Nothing like unloading 10 switches onto a cart and finding out you are on the wrong side of the building. Can I bring carts and equipment only in a certain door or loading dock?

What to do when you enter the building

This is another obvious thing to those who use the building on a regular basis. Do you check in with the security desk first? Do you need to sign in if you have a badge? In order to help understand some of the issues, I will take you through getting to equipment at two data centers in different cities owned by different companies.

Dats Center 1
Upon entering I pass security but do not have to check in with them. I use my badge on the gates, but not the top sensor, the one on the angle facing me. Both accept badges, but my badge only works on one. After my elevator ride to the floor my equipment is on I badge in through a door. Next up is the man-trap (sorry people trap sounds dumb). I am presented with a reader with a pin pad, This pin pad is the same as many other of the data centers I visit. However, at this particular one I just swipe my card and do not enter a pin. The light on the reader flashes between red and green rapidly. I have to remember this is not an error message, but normal for this data center. I nervously open the door hoping I don’t set off any alarms. Once inside the man-trap I have another similar keypad to let me into the data center room. Swiping my badge results in the same rapidly flashing red and green and I am in the data center and can proceed to my rack.

Data Center 2
In order to gain access to the building I swipe my card at the exact same pin pad, I mentioned in the above Data Center. I have to remember at this data center I need a pin. I enter my pin and the reader beeps the light turns green. it’s important to note it does not flash like the previous pinpad at the other data center, even though it’s the same model. I can hear the door mechanism unlock. Once inside it is a similar procedure in order to get through each door until I get to my equipment. On the way out, I just swipe my badge and do not have to enter the pin. The pin is only for going through the door on the way in. The system knows you have been through that door and just is looking for your card swipe to let you out. At this data center, you do have to remember to swipe your card before you leave a door. The door will open without a card swipe but will set off alarms. This can be easy to do if you are distracted.

Other data centers make you check in with security and sign in before using your badge to go onward into the depths of the facility. Others, the building security personnel have little to do with the data center.

Also, train the building security folks to realize there are many of us who don’t visit the facility on a regular basis. I have had many a security guard ticked off about my questions on procedures.

Maps to my equipment
If each data center provided me a map of the floor where my equipment is I would probably love them forever, at least send them a Christmas card. If I could take that map and draw an “x marks the spot” type of map that would help me remember where my stuff is. If the data center provided this as part of a welcome package they might get upgraded to cookies for Christmas.

The things you don’t need to know until you need to know
Do your badges expire after so many days/weeks/months of inactivity? I have some facilities where my badge expires after 30 days of inactivity. Just about every visit to the facility involves getting my badge reactivated. It seems this procedure changes each time.

If I have equipment shipped is it only available to get out of storage at certain times?

Are there crash carts on site for keyboard, mouse, monitor? What is the procedure for getting access to those?

Go through what a customer would have to at 3am on a Tuesday night
If you are a data center, especially one that says customers have access to their equipment 24/7/365, go through some mental exercises as if you were a customer. It’s okay if you can’t do certain things during business hours only, knowing ahead of time can solve a ton of issues. Just some things a customer may go through
-It’s 3am and my server crashed. Is there a crash cart? How do I get access to that cart?
-Where do I put my cardboard and such when I am done? Do I have to carry it out with me or is there a specific place I can put it to be recycled/trashed?
-Is there wifi? If you want me to fill out a ticket to get stuff done and I have no internet due to being inside a structure that doesn’t help. Going out in the hall or even outside is not productive.

Knowing what the capabilities of the facility during different hours can really help. If a noc technician needs to escort me to the meet-me room and I can only do that during normal business hours that is something very handy to know. I am fine with that if I know ahead of time and can plan. Don’t say you are 24/7/365 and I can’t add a new device to my meet-me-room rack at 7am on a Sunday because no one is available.

e-mail lists are your friend
I have a few data centers which keep a pretty active list of what is going on at the facility. things like break room closures, parking restrictions due to construction, etc.

In other words, make it easy for your customer to follow your rules and procedures.

Featured Udemy Course: Networking

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