Data Center Upgrades: Behind the Scenes

Data Center Upgrade Project Gemini South

Project Manager, Cristian Silva, is checking the recent deployment of the computers installed at the La Serena, Chile Base Facility Computer Room.

Racks and Heat

Tim Minick, ISG Manager

Tim Minick, ISG Manager

“High-availability networks are key in ensuring that Gemini’s daytime and nighttime operations run dependably and efficiently.  Quite simply, the fault of a single network device should never impact Gemini’s exploration of the universe!  The same holds true for planned maintenance cycles. The new fault-tolerant core network infrastructure now provides us flexibility when responding to network device failures, and other repair and maintenance tasks that used to create interruptions in service.   These can now be performed when convenient and with zero impact on operations.”

Like great filmmakers who are never seen, Gemini’s Information Systems Group (ISG) is more than two years into an “invisible” re-engineering of Gemini’s Data Center. This multi-year project includes complete upgrades of all the computer rooms in both Chile and Hawai’i and even features a short time-lapse video that makes behind-the-scenes activities visible.

For most staff and users, this work is (and should be) completely transparent. However, this enormous project includes a wide variety of tasks, from the replacement of numerous computer racks and a complete re-work of air conditioning systems, to a Core Switch Network upgrade.

A key improvement is the complete replacement of computer racks in the four computer server rooms at Gemini North and South. Not only are servers and computers better protected, and cables more organized, but there is more space for the growing data network. It is estimated that these new racks will serve Gemini for about 10-15 years.

The problem of cooling the computer rooms provided a central motivation for this initiative. To solve this critical issue, the airflow was better defined into cool and hot environments and air extractors installed to provide more efficient airflow. In the process, this work even produced an energy savings of about 30%.

The Core

Another critical upgrade brought the Core Switch Network up-to-date. The result is that maintenance can be performed at any level, while minimizing impact to normal operations.

In the End…

ISG estimates that the entire project will be essentially complete by the end of February 2015, with a few more details to follow, like the installation of a camera and intercom system, upgrades to software/hardware security, and integration of temperature/humidity sensors and alarms.

Gemini’s Administration Facilities Group is also chipping-in and has improved the computer room environment with a coat of fresh paint, installation of new ceiling tiles, and upgraded lighting.

Behind-the-Scenes Time-Lapse Video

Time-lapse video of a day’s work installing (and rewiring) new server racks at the Gemini North Base Facility. The seemingly frantic activity features two Gemini interns, Kenny Bombino, and Christopher Johnson (in the back row at far left in the shot of the team at the end). Look for the ISG mascot who makes two cameo appearances!

Video background music is a slightly modified version of “The Grind” by Justin Mahar licensed under a Creative Commons agreement. Find the original here:

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