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Full speed ahead with the Netstream marine engine

Ship engine

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The ship's engine on the roof of our Swiss Data Center not only brings a vacation feeling to Dübendorf, but above all security for our customers and partners of Netstream Cloud and Streaming Services.

The mysterious roof of the Data Center

"And what do you think we have on the roof of our data center?" my colleague Daniela asked me meaningfully on one of my first days at work. I could tell from her smile that it wasn't the satellite dishes I spontaneously thought of. It probably couldn't be a cable clutter either. At this point, I should mention that this was my first time working in the IT industry. But what was it then?

Fortunately, I didn't have to guess for long, because I probably would never have thought of a ship's engine! A ship's engine?? How cool is that? And what was it doing on the roof of a house? Spontaneously I had to think of the beach bars with piled up sand, which are to be found in many cities on the roof terraces. But that could hardly be the reason.

The answer, once you knew it, was then completely logical and plausible. In the event of a power failure, our ship's engine is the lifeline for the operation of our own data center - and thus also for the cloud and streaming solutions of our customers and partners. Or should I say: for their "sea of data"...?

What a UPS has to do with network availability

Fortunately, we have a reliable energy supply in Switzerland and rarely experience power outages. And when they do occur, they usually last only a few minutes and are regionally limited. That is really good luck, if you only imagine the economic damage such an interruption can cause. At this point, I also realize how essential network availability is for our customers and partners, and that we protect their business from such an outage. And the trust they place in us when they choose us as their cloud partner.

Thanks to my colleagues and a little research of my own, I know that in the event of a power failure, the first thing to go is the redundant uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system in the Netstream Data Center. This means that powerful batteries take over the power supply of our servers, storage and network components for a short time. This allows us to continue to provide our customers and partners with Netstream Cloud and streaming services without delay or interruption. However, the batteries are only used to bridge the time that the emergency generator needs to start up. In other words, they provide the "emergency first aid". But who then replaces our first responders?

The sleeping giant on the roof

This is where the aforementioned ship's engine comes into play. Thanks to this blog post, I know: it acts as a redundantly operated backup power unit (NEA) in our data center. While the power supply from the batteries is in full swing, our sleeping giant on the roof wakes up to take over the power supply with a loud hum as an emergency generator. It only takes a few seconds for the colossus to be fully operational and to take over from the batteries in their work. Then it impresses as a real powerhouse: the diesel-powered generator produces an output of 700 kVA. If, against all probability, the worst-case scenario of a prolonged power outage should ever occur, the ship's engine would have to be refueled for the first time after 48 hours. This can be done continuously while it continues to do its job. Its refueling should be spectacular, since the tank is also located on the roof of the Data Center. Of course, we are all glad that no one has been able to observe this yet, as it has not been necessary so far.

Monthly tests for emergencies

To ensure that everything runs smoothly in an emergency, the systems are tested once a month, explains my colleague Erik Amgwerd, who works as an infrastructure engineer at Netstream. The ship's engine is then put through its paces for 30 minutes. You can sense Erik's enthusiasm when he talks about the performance of our ship's engine.


Better the ship engine on the roof than by the sea

For our customers and partners, the giant on the roof of the Netstream Data Center means the greatest possible security. Thanks to it, they can continue to navigate full steam ahead through the sea of data even in the event of a prolonged power outage, while using their cloud-based Netstream services.

I realize: the ship's engine we have up there on the roof is 1000 times better - and more spectacular - than any beach bar.

With this in mind: Full steam ahead and Netstream Cloud ahoy!

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