Dean Nelson of eBay uses an axe to retire the final server as the company powers down its oldest data center.

Retiring A Data Center. With an Axe.

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Dean Nelson of eBay uses an axe to retire the final server as the company powers down its oldest data center.

The data center is built around the principle of perpetual uptime. The power must always be on. The data must always be available. Yet what becomes of these facilities when they reach the end of their usefulness? What procedures and rituals are required when a data center is turned off?

At eBay, it involves putting an an axe through the final server. That’s the fun part of a great blog post by Dean Nelson, senior director of the data center team at eBay, which last month shut down the company’s oldest data center in Sacramento. The facility was retired as part of a major data center consolidation for the giant Internet auction site, which will shift much of its operations to a new data center in Utah. Dean describes the process, gives some history on the facility, and shares details of the ceremony for de-activating the final server and powering down the building.

Dean writes:

“After some final words were spoken by Paul, Bala (the project lead), myself and even Olivier Sanche, my predecessor who kept this crazy thing going before I arrived, we got down to the business of truly putting this data center to rest. After 8 years of serving as a core to eBay’s complex portfolio of data centers, all of the 3400 assets had found a new home, except one…and it was not going to get off easy. This old x335 was sitting timidly in the last rack left on the floor, waiting for its time to go, not knowing that we had something else planned for it. So much time, effort, collaboration, planning and precise execution had been put in to bring this facility to a close, but one more action was needed to officially signify the death of this data center. And with that…WHAP! I reared back and drove an axe through the final remnant of this once complex, powerful and archaic beast of a data center. A symbolic, but appropriate end to the life of this aging server…and its home… (don’t worry the asset was recycled.)

Bala Meduri, who oversaw the closure process for the facility for eBay, then turned off the power. Thanks to Dean and the eBay team for an inside look at the terminal moment for a data center.See the full story and photos at Data Center Pulse.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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