In the ultimate manifestation of the “server hugger” who wants to be close to their equipment, a number of hobbyists and IT professionals have set up data centers in their home, creating server rooms in garages, basements and home offices.
The home data center is a novel extension of the central role that data centers now play in modern life. These enthusiasts are driven by a passion for IT, and use their gear for test-driving new equipment, lightweight web hosting or just as the ultimate technology ManCave.
Whatever the motivation, this level of connected house requires some adaptations, including upgrading power and network connections and running cable throughout a residential home.
Here’s a look at a few examples of these projects:
The enterprise is in the house
Canadian IT professional Alain Boudreault has enterprise class equipment from Dell, HP, Sun, Juniper and IBM in his home data center in the basement of his house, including a high-density IBM BladeCenter. His web site provides a detailed overview of his setup, including a diagram of all the components. It includes an Open Stack MAAS (Metal as a Service) cloud and multiple storage systems (iSCSI and Fiber Channel).
“My first step was to install an electrical box to provide a power of 240 volts at 40 amp, which will provide a maximum of 9.6 kW/hour when needed, writes Boudreault, who teaches application development and uses the facility for testing. “The servers are rarely open all at once, so average consumption is 1-2 kW/hour.” Electricity is about 7 cents per kW/hour in Quebec, he says.
Nonetheless, Boudreault writes that this type of home data center is “not for the faint of heart.”
The data center as YouTube star
Some home data center builders post videos to YouTube. The most popular of these is the Home Data Center Project, another project in Canada that began in 2005 as two computers in a closet and had grown to more than 60 servers as of 2013. The project has been documented in a series of videos that have racked up more than 500,000 views on YouTube. The videos and web site document the extensive cabling, cooling and network infrastructure upgrades.
“This project was not designed to make a profit,” writes developer Etienne Vailleux of Hyperweb Technologies. “This setup was simply there as a hobby. But after some time, it quickly became a passion.”
In 2013, the project migrated from one house to another and downscaled a bit. “A part of the basement was specially designed to house servers and air conditioners,” Vailleux shared in an update. “The project is currently hosting 15 servers. The capacity of the connection is 60 Mbit/s.”
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