Video Tour: Cisco’s New Texas Data Center

A look at the data center floor inside the new Cisco data center in Allen, Texas.

Earlier this spring Cisco Systems opened the doors to its new company-built data center in Allen, Texas. The facility showcases Cisco’s latest technologies for building unified infrastructures for cloud computing applications, and works together with a Cisco data center in Richardson to provide “active-active” mirroring for instant failover. We’ve profiled this facility before, but a new video from Cisco provides a much deeper dive into the data center’s features. In this episode of Cisco’s TechWise TV, Robb Boyd and Jimmy Ray Purser provide a walk-through of the Allen facility and its design features. This video runs about 22 minutes.
video runs 22 minutes.

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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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  1. Rich, thank you for posting our video tour! Robb

  2. Rock the HOUSE! thank you for posting this! Man that is really sweeet DC!!! You should see the automation side of it! Jimmy Ray

  3. Dave L

    Respirators are needed for FM200 ? I must have missed that requirement. Water doesn't affect data ? Tell that to your storage device that won't power up after the water puts out the fire.

  4. Reply to Dave FM200 is really just derivative of Hydroperfluoropropane which puts out fires by removing the O2 via starvation. Check out the MSDS from Dupont. Please do not consider this a "human friendly" extinguisher. Certainly more so then Halon but still dangerous stuff. Power and data are two separate things. Your are correct about it not powering up. However, remove the harddrive, dry it out and the data is still good and recoverable. Water will not be corrosive to the data on the platters. The servers are trashed for sure, but that would most likely be the case in all extinguish methods. Respectfully Jimmy Ray

  5. SeanM

    Just a comment as it sounds like gas-bashing here :) I'm sure it's not, but I wanted to add some context to even things out a bit. Before anyone asks, I'm speaking for me, not the place I work for (but no, we don't make or sell or maintain fire system gear). O2 starvation for fires is a carefully considered science, and it's not just "Kill off all the O2 in the room". I'm also surprised about the comment that dry agents aren't human friendly. To skip straight to some bits about a totally 'human friendly' gas, I'll use an even simpler fire supression system than FM200 as a first example, since FM200 has more than just O2 starvation as a component. Inergen (Ansul) is simply Nitrogen (52%), Argon (40%) and CO2 (8%) stored in canisters. When a fire condition exists and the gas is dumped, the room changes from it's normal "all the time just like at home" ratio of just under 21% oxygen, just over 78% Nitrogen, just under 1% argon, and under <.05% CO2 and anything else. The amounts of gas *designed* into the system result in a new ration of ~12.5% O2, 3% CO2, and the rest being Nitrogen and argon. Combustion generally requires 15% O2, and thus fires don't burn. People breath just fine in 12% O2, so long as there's sufficient CO2 to induce faster respiration (thus dumping some CO2 in the mix). You can breath it, fire can't. Problem solved. No masks, no toxicity, no respirators, etc. Also, no issues for data in the rooms other than what's on spinning disks, except in fairly rare edge cases (pressurization changes in the room, PHYSICAL damage when racks, tiles, etc are too close to the discharge heads, or from the sound wave of the discharge - I'll even include the link to the case study about this for fairness Be sure to read the part about the *sirens* causing damage, and ask if that's an issue when water systems are about to go off - Answer: yes, if the same sirens are used. Just a note.). In an FM200 deployment, the toxicity of the gas is hundreds of thousands of times lower than the toxicity of whatever the heck is resulting from the thing burning (ie, worry about the smoke from what cooked off, not the gas). As for the safety of FM200 if there's *not* a fire (ie, when you ARE able to ignore the hundreds of thousands times more toxic smoke since it's not present), read the entire MSDS and what it means in human form. If there's not BEEN a fire, the gas itself is fine to breathe. To quote from the FAQ: " If there was no fire event, the agent can be safely and quickly removed through conventional air handling (turn on the AC, open the doors and windows) and will pose no danger to the respondents or the employees working in the space. DuPont™ FM-200® is safe for people to breath at normal design concentrations." And: "How can I be sure that DuPont™ FM-200® is safe for people? Exhaustive testing has been conducted to assess the safety of FM-200®, giving it the most comprehensive toxicity database of any clean agent. In fact, FM-200® is so safe that it is used as a propellant in pharmaceutical inhalers that dispense asthma medications. FM-200® is a single, pure compound; there is no active ingredient in FM-200®." Again, in super-total-coverage mode, to use a more toxic or less human-friendly (to use the terms above) example, ECARO-25, a drop in replacement for old Halon systems) has a recommended 5-minute exposure time. I'll note that in a room full of MW of power, if water's going into the air, I wanna get out within 5 minutes, too :) OH WAIT, there's theoretically a fire, prolly the best reason to leave the area. If the fire's confirmed to not exist, room ventilation is 'fairly' easy to get concentrations back down to safe-for-sustained-exposure levels For dry-fire systems for human safety, Halon 1301 is safer than pure CO2 systems from ye olden days, but bad for the environment so it's on the way out. FM-200 was just as safe (safer in many ways), but required pipe and tank refitting. ECARO was designed to drop into the same pipes, but isn't quite as human friendly as even Halon. The toxicity rules have continued to evolve (and will keep doing so, for good reason), but they also have varying levels based on the type of fire (data centers TEND not to be full of wood chips and shredded plastic and paper, for some reason). Here's a good breakdown on toxicity levels by fire supression agent levels in an ECARO system to speak in detail: Look, I'm a fan of a Dual-Interlock Pre-Action fire suppression system (and use them *regularly* which I wouldn't do if I hated them for some reason!), but there's no reason to 'scare up' the concept of dry-fire systems for no reason. Water has some advantages, as do the various gases. Water has some *disadvantages*, too. If the pipes were *ever* filled (even tho a head never dumped!), and then were drained, if the system isn't 100% dried out, it's very possible you'll get rust, black pipe, MIC (bacteria, etc) in the pipe. The next time that pipes gets filled, all that crap is coming out with the water. So, it is often MUCH more involved than 'take out the harddrive and dry it off'. Also, in some areas, if you flow water into the pipes, the AHJ may require an immadiate EPO (even if the heads aren't breaking!). Thankfully this is rare but it has come up. That's not generally the case with gas (I'm not aware of anywhere it's been required). If you develop a leak in your water pipe, you're now depending on the compressor and the interlock valve to porevent water in the white floor. It's a stretch but it has happened. Again, not an issue with a dry-agent syste. Sure, you just blew $250,000 of agent out a hole, but it was seemless to the datacenter, pending recharge. It's all a game of plus-and-minus. Water costs less and AHJ's know all about it for the valves and compressor parts, but may have a bigger risk with electrical infrastructure or AHJ-handling requirements and 'hidden issues' like pipe MIC. Dry Agent systems cost much more, leave you exposed when they go off to issues like the noise/vibration/shaking issues, and often involve local-training with your fire department due to their being less common, but also tend to 'go off' and no one who wasn't there ever cares or knows (that isn't the case very often when water goes!). Water *is* a cool system when done well; just be fair and note there's no need to make the other ones scarier just to make water cooler :) Full disclosure: I work daily to design, deploy, and maintain better than a quarter million square feet of operational white-floor datacenter space (plus supporting infrastructure), and currently have systems using dual-interlock pre-action dry-pipe water system, Inergen, FM200 and ECARO-25, all depending on the specific site 'internal geography', AHJ requirements, density, etc. Oh, and this was all off the cuff, so I apologize if I've missed any terrible grammar/spelling issues. Feel free to add any corrections/suggestions in the comments :)