Interxion Readies Staff ‘Sleeping Pods’ for Olympics

Members of the engineering team at Interxion test drive "sleeping pods" installed in the company's London data center to ensure that the facility will be fully-staffed throughout the Summer Olympic Games. (Photo: Interxion)

For data centers, uptime is mandatory, even if the buses and trains aren’t running on time. That’s an issue on the minds of data center in operators in London, which may see its transit system tested by the huge crowds expected for the 2012 Summer Olympics. The data center team at Interxion has come up with a solution that will ensure that its London tech staff can be on site to keep things running smoothly throughout the Games.

Interxion today unveiled “sleeping pods” at its London data center campus, allowing staff to sleep amongst the racks to ensure that the facility will be fully staffed throughout the Games.  allowing engineering staff to stay on site 24/7 should congestion on the travel and road networks become too severe, making it difficult for critical staff to travel to and from the site in a timely fashion.

“Due to the nature of our business we need to be ready for all eventualities and while we are excited to have the Olympics in London we also need to be sure that we can continue to offer the highest level of resilience to our customers,” said Greg McCulloch, UK Managing Director of Interxion. “The installation of the sleeping pods is another great example of Interxion putting resilience and uptime at the forefront of everything it does.”

Interxion’s London data center campus houses some of the UK’s most important digital businesses, including financial services, online retail and entertainment firms delivering critical services to to millions of people.

While staff in many industries might object to a plan that expects them to sleep in their office, data center firms have a primary calling of keeping their facilities operational at all times, and assuring customers that they’ve taken every precaution to keep their data available and safe.

The sleeping chambers were designed by UK company Podtime, and made in Battersea, South West London. The pods are designed for modular construction and can be stacked up to two levels high for economy of space. The units are designed for workplaces to provide staff an area for “power naps” but can be customized for overnight stays.

“Everyone working in central London will feel the challenging side-effect of the Games, and the organizations they work for will face operational issues with employees being stuck in queues rather than being in the office,” said Jon Gray, Director at Podtime. “We see the sleeping pods as a good cheap solution for those ‘staff-critical’ companies which must have 24/7 cover for vital procedures.”

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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. Unheeded Voice

    Sure they're smiling now, but the smiles will vanish when Interxion announces that they will maintain the practice after the Olympics are over...

  2. They're putting a whole new meaning on the word "podcast"

  3. Martin

    How awful. How about a hotel for these poor chaps !

  4. Roger

    Is this what the IT industry has become ?

  5. Nick

    I hope that they get paid overtime for the extra hours they work and the inconvenience. How cheap human life has become.

  6. Kaylen

    Couldn't they at least put them in a spare room?! Datacenter is way too cold and noisy for a good night's sleep!

  7. James

    They are doing it wrong.

  8. Does that mean I get to see my wife and kids at work and sleep in the pod with her? Or am I expected to give up my family for a month?

  9. mbourgon

    Is it really that hard to find people able to work the second or third shift? In other news, the rest of the year they don't have anyone normally available after hours?

  10. Susan

    The MD should be required to also sleep in a pod with his staff.

  11. Smartars

    Err.. didn't someone mention SSH and teleworking to these people? I can even turn things off and on at the data centre using commands I issue from home / or even my phone.

  12. Ari

    Really? I think a pillow and sleeping bag at your cube would make a bit more sense. There is no datacentre that doesn't have a row of cubes in the next room or down the hall. What if there is a fire in the datacentre? or what if the fire suppressants go off and kill all three pod jockies who are sleeping and can't hear anything because the servers are creating so much noise? Seems a little stupid to me. Sounds like some manager heard about a pod idea and decided to burn some corporate cash just to get some publicity. That's what it sounds like to me. I'm sure this violates all sorts of safety codes and regulations. You don't even want to know what I would say to my boss if he/she suggested that I sleep in a pod to look after the datacentre. Yeah right!

  13. Observer

    I guess they don't have HP servers that have remote management built-in.

  14. mbourgon: you are missing the point, the concern is that staff will not be able to get to/from the data center due to traffic and transit congestion. This way staff that are unable to leave due to the congestion can at least get some sleep, and it will allow the data center to keep staff onsite

  15. Curious

    But, more importantly, where is the third guy's shoes? Each of the other chaps has a convenient location for his shoes. Does he not get to wear shoes? Very concerned.

  16. Sean Farney

    Containerized Data Center Staffing...a huge step for Modularization. MSFT will beta in Wyoming.

  17. Joel Jensen

    This looks awesome. I love this.

  18. Adam

    I know I am from the US and not London however, yes, someone stated that everyone complaining about this idea is missing the point. I will reiterate. Traffic jams, public transportation congestion, possible vehicle accidents. All three of these things, plus more, can cause a person to be late for a shift or not be able to show up at all. If you were driving to work and were in a very bad accident and sent the hospital, your team is now down a person. I know the a lot of companies or data center facilities only staff a handful of people at night and even missing one person can make a massive impact. I give these guys a lot of credit for what they are doing.

  19. Chris

    Ewwww, hope they wear hearing protection, would hate to wear it while sleeping, this is dumb.

  20. Bob

    You know what's far cheaper and does the same job? Hammocks.

  21. Michael

    I've always wanted to have a sleepover in a datacenter. All that white noise, a nice chill to the air and plenty of circulation. Good sleeps.

  22. Pedro

    Since when IT professionals are slaves?

  23. Holly

    Somehow I don't think they ran this by the employee's wives.

  24. Sam

    The Pod Design is dreadful. Looks like you have to crawl all over the bed to get in and out. Not very clever if one needs to exit quickly - fire etc. Side opening doors would solve this problem. Theory is OK but FAIL for this device.

  25. Oren

    At one time it was unremarkable to have onsite provisions for staff needing to stay there. This is just one more creative solution being tested. RE: life safety concerns. There indeed are some areas in high tech facilities VERY not smart to assign as sleeping or even desk space.

  26. Some guy

    Japan has been offering these types of accommodations in the metro areas for commuters who worked late and need to return the next day. It's not a new idea... And in a fire you can easily get out. Not ADA compliant so you'd never see one of these in the states. I agree with Mike - sleeping in a DC would be easy. White noise, cool air, and comfort of being in a solid building.

  27. A lot of you are missing the point as to why interxion are doing this. They are a hosting site and have numerous companies that hav their servers situated there and under there terms and conditions have to provide on site engineers 24/7 for the companies that they provide the service for.

  28. Jonathan Mann

    Nice photo op, and good idea because sometimes you really do need a body in the racks when things start going badly, but I agree with some postings above about life safety. They should probably put the pods out in the cube farm/office space somewhere instead of in the racks with the chemical fire suppression....

  29. I'll pay everyone £1000 and let them each drive galactica for 15 minutes if this is used for the entire duration of the olympics. Idiotic.

  30. Where's the portal shower, and the portal kitchen? What about conjugal visits? Perhaps they'll have Chef Ramsay prepare some meals for them. In all seriousness... great idea, just hope they remember to compensate their employees appropriately or at least recognize their commitment to the organization. Cheers!

  31. I'd imagine those pods will get smelly pretty quickly.

  32. I've spent more than a few nights laying on a cold datacenter floor, waiting on parts, a customer engineer or both to arrive. This would have been a nice amenity to have. Good for you guys. But yea, clean those suckers, it could get nasty in there.

  33. I hope that my boss doesn't see these or I'm going to spend too many nights in that kind of pods ;-D

  34. Found the third pair of shoes, they're on top of the bottom bunk behind the door, look for the black shadow with a little bit of red felt. hard to see, but they're there.

  35. Tim

    I wonder if the pods have oxygen in case the fire suppression kicks off.