Enterprise server and storage equipment fills a basement space in this home data center in Canada. (Photo: VE2CUY Project).

Enterprise server and storage equipment fills a basement space in this home data center in Canada. (Photo: VE2CUY Project).

The Home Data Center: Man Cave for the Internet Age

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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.

home-data-center

Racks of servers in a garage are part of the Home Data Center Project, which has been documented in videos with more than 500,000 views on YouTube. (Photo: Home Data Center Project).

“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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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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6 Comments

  1. Jeff

    '“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 9.6kw/hr 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 centers per kW/hour in Quebec, he says.' Does he not understand the difference between power and energy, or is there something lost in the translation here?

  2. Aaron

    This looks easier http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/poweredge-vrtx/pd

  3. houkouonchi

    A friend linked me to the page. That original video is so old. I have an updated one which has more stuff and got rid of my norco cases (everything is supermicro now): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiOSXKQk5hc Even that is quite out-dated. I am about due for a new one. Currently have 2 more 4u supermicro boxes in the rack and now have > 300TB of space in it. I now have a 300/300 FIOS connection and I went back to residential as they came after me for bw usage on small business too so I just have to watch my usage either way now.

  4. ian

    Seriously - why? What do you do with the data center, besides convert electrical energy into heat? I suppose if you live in a cold climate, it makes sense

  5. Evan Adams (@evan_adams)

    If every home had optical connections, I wonder if some sort of locked up data center box could be sold that would fail to other homes but the power used and thus heat generated could be used to supplement home heating costs in cold climates.

  6. Steve H

    At my house I have a full size rack with my 2 NAS boxes, a server and such with a dedicated 20A 120V feed, but to have a 10kW feed added. I would have been shot!