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Inside Equinix's SY3 datacentre: photos

Datacentre provider Equinix yesterday officially launched its US$65 million SY3 datacentre in south Sydney, complementing its SY1 and SY2 centres located nearby.
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By Michael Lee, Journalist on
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1 of 16 Michael Lee/ZDNet

(Credit: Equinix)

The new centre is directly connected to Equinix's existing SY1 and SY2 centres, and provides access to more than 60 network providers. It has been live since 30 June, with a number of existing clients from SY1 and SY2 extending their services across to SY3.

"Cloud Central, IntraPower and Orion VM have been quick to utilise SY3 to meet strong demand for their respective services," said Equinix Australia managing director Darren Mann, adding that SY3 will be an enabler of cloud services.

"We are experiencing a lot of demand from cloud and financial services companies," he said. However, when the company was asked whether Equinix would ever look into deploying its own cloud service, Equinix Asia-Pacific president Samuel Lee said that it would not be offering any services that compete with its customers.

In fact, the company was looking at promoting its own customers' products, saying it is launching a new internal "market place" next month. The market place will allow Equinix customers to advertise their services to each other to take advantage of the close proximity of their physical hardware. The company said it would be offering this at no charge.

Equinix's focus on customers inclusivity also extends to the direction in which the company takes in setting up new centres.

"A lot of our customers in Sydney are asking for Melbourne. We also had a lot of people that have actually told us that the cost of doing business in Melbourne is relatively lower and businesses are actually considering to establishing an establishment there," Lee said.

As a result of the demand, he said it was one of the places the company was looking to expand to. He didn't rule out the possibility of a national datacentre network, but said that Equinix would seek input from its customers for new locations.

The company has also said that it isn't interested in becoming a cloud provider. Lee said the company focuses more on providing power, space and cooling. While the recent focus on cloud over the past few years was great for business, Lee said, it's not something the company needs, adding that Equinix has a global 45 to 50 per cent profit margin on the current infrastructure services it provides.

For this reason, it's also not looking at reselling equipment in its datacentre.

"It's a low-margin business. When we take the equipment, we take the responsibility. It's a totally different business."

"If a customer comes to us and says, 'Hey, we want the equipment as well', what they mean is actually they want to turn capex into opex. They want you to give them the equipment and turn it into a monthly contract. That is something we are not that interested [in doing]. It's low margin," Lee said.

However, whatever equipment customers bring in, Equinix acts almost like a Swiss bank with regards to data confidentiality.

"Almost all of our customers are confidential. It's quite strange. Even down to the little guy in one cabinet, what he could be doing, we have no idea. We don't ask. Many of our customers say, 'Nobody knows I'm here', and that's confidence that we keep. It's part of our business," said sales director Jeremy Deutsch.

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2 of 16 Michael Lee/ZDNet

(Credit: Equinix)

Security in the facility borders on paranoid. New clients are required to have their fingerprints scanned and then stored on their own ID cards. These cards are then used in combination with biometric readers placed at almost every door in the facility, ensuring that ID cards can't be swapped and are rendered useless if stolen.

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3 of 16 Michael Lee/ZDNet

(Credit: Equinix)

Security gates at the two entrances to the centre are also designed to stop anyone that might try and slip in behind an approved person. A 24-hour, seven-day-a-week-manned security booth sits alongside the main entrance, and even the exterior of the building itself is nondescript.

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4 of 16 Michael Lee/ZDNet

(Credit: Equinix)

Once past the security gates, a "manlock" ensures that anyone trying to access the co-location farms are scrutinised by security cameras and if necessary, trapped for questioning. It is combined with the centre's network of 120 CCTV cameras that are peppered throughout the building, covering just about every square metre of space.

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5 of 16 Michael Lee/ZDNet

(Credit: Equinix)

The manlock also provides would-be victims a view of SY3's co-location hall 2 via a huge viewing window. The hall is mostly vacant at the moment, with a single customer currently residing there.

LED lights illuminate the hall in a blue glow when no one is working in it, switching to conventional lighting once sensors detect that someone has entered in order to conserve energy. It is a similar set up that exists at SY2. The power distribution units either side of the hall are colour-coded according to their function. Grey represents primary power, while orange represents redundant.

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6 of 16 Michael Lee/ZDNet

(Credit: Michael Lee/ZDNet Australia)

Co-location hall 1 is beginning to fill out, with a number of customers set up within the cages. Access to power is located below the cage floor, which sits a metre off the ground.

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7 of 16 Michael Lee/ZDNet

(Credit: Equinix)

Data services run above the racks, with copper cabling running through the red trays, while fibre is held in the yellow conduits. Some clients have opted to completely seal off sections of the centre (as pictured on the right of the photo) to seek additional confidentiality.

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8 of 16 Michael Lee/ZDNet

(Credit: Equinix)

Equinix also allows customers to vary their cabinet size and alter installation options. Some customers have chosen to cage below the floor, or to the ceiling of the centre, or even have specialised equipment. The company also takes delivery of equipment on behalf of customers and has built separate rooms within the facility for secure storage, as well as a build room for customers to test equipment before bringing it to the cages.

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9 of 16 Michael Lee/ZDNet

(Credit: Michael Lee/ZDNet Australia)

Outside of the co-location farms are the computer room air conditioners, or CRACs. These are pressure controlled and connected to a dual-reticulation chilled water pipe system that runs below the access hallway (pictured).

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10 of 16 Michael Lee/ZDNet

(Credit: Equinix)

Chilled water is provided from the mechanical plant in the centre, which also contains a massive chilled water buffer tank. This tank, which will be augmented with a second in the future, is able to provide 24 hours of cooling for a full design load. It is kept cooled at all times so that in the event of a power failure, where the centre's chillers and pumps are required to restart, cooling is maintained.

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11 of 16 Michael Lee/ZDNet

(Credit: Equinix)

In the event that power to the centre is cut off, backup power is provider via diesel generator sets.

The generators are kept warm in order to be ready to receive load within 45 seconds of a mains failure, well within the centre's 10-minute UPS supply time.

In the event of prolonged failure, the centre has three 60-kilolitre underground fuel storage tanks, which sit directly below the generators, and contracts with two vendors to deliver fuel within four hours.

The generators are run twice a month to ensure they are prepared for a mains failure; once to check operation and once under full load. Similar to what occurs annually at SY1 and SY2, Equinix will also put the centre under a "dark side" test during which they shut off the mains power, simulating a power failure to check that its UPS and generators are working correctly.

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12 of 16 Michael Lee/ZDNet

(Credit: Michael Lee/ZDNet Australia)

The Local Operations Command Centre monitors the status of the mechanical, electrical and fire protection services in the building, as well as security and environment elements such as air temperature within the halls.

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13 of 16 Michael Lee/ZDNet

(Credit: Equinix)

Customers, such as those that re-sell services like web hosting, have access to a number of meeting rooms to work with their own customers.

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14 of 16 Michael Lee/ZDNet

(Credit: Equinix)

The centre also features a board room for its customers conducting presentations.

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15 of 16 Michael Lee/ZDNet

(Credit: Michael Lee/ZDNet Australia)

For its customers' techs, which might spend days at a time troubleshooting issues, it has set up hot desks they can use to work from, in addition to house phones and wireless facilities that reach throughout the centre.

Tired techs also have the ability to shower at the facility or get a cup of coffee in its lounge.

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16 of 16 Michael Lee/ZDNet

(Credit: Michael Lee/ZDNet Australia)

Finally, when all else fails and techs simply need a break, there are also two pinball machines and a retro-style video game machine.

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