BPR has never had a fully outfitted data center. Similar to our current studios our current solution was installed in the mid-eighties and homegrown. It is worth noting the accomplishments of those efforts. We have successfully run broadcast support operations from this space for over three decades. That said as our audience has grown, the addition of another service and the increased importance of our service to the community we needed to make a leap from the past into the future.
Our current data center has several notable liabilities that do or can impact our ability to service the community:
- Network Providers
- Internal Networks
- Low Voltage Wiring
- Power Distribution
- Power Supply / Redundancy
- HVAC / Environmental Controls & Monitoring
- Fire Suppression and Monitoring
- Physical Security & Monitoring
Here is a short summary of each liability we are addressing with our new data center.
Network Providers – We currently work with a regional ISP (internet service provider). This ISP provides us with 100MB/100MB fiber, a wireless fail-over solution running 15MB/5MB and our phone services. Overall our experience with this ISP has been neutral. Similar to larger ISP’s, service is reliable, customer service is lacking, and pricing is high. We have engaged ERC to provide us with 1000MB/1000MB fiber service and will be migrating our phone system over to Ring Free. Both ERC and Ring Free are local organizations with exceptional customer service.
Internal Networks – We had some rather concerning security issues when I first came on board. This was immediately addressed by installing an appropriate firewall. A part of the upgrades to our network includes an updated security gateway (firewall) with enhanced security features, all-new layer three switches that allow us to restrict internal traffic, enhancing our abilities to maintain internal and external network security.
Low Voltage Wiring – We have been in our space for several decades. In that time we have had many different contractors and technical staff with ever-evolving technologies. As time has progressed our wiring has evolved into a rat’s nest, a byproduct of needing to stay on air 24/7. Our new studio systems are all AoIP (Audio over IP) which have specific requirements for network wiring. We will be removing all analog/digital audio cables as a part of this project and moving all studio operations over to newly installed CAT6 cabling.
Electrical Distribution & Redundancy – Similar to low voltage wiring our electrical distribution has evolved over time and is far from optimal. At this time we have a UPS (battery backup) that will keep us on the air for approximately two hours. Beyond that our broadcast would go offline until power has been restored. In the last five years, we have never had a power outage last longer than our UPS, though we have come close several times. Our previous engineer had told me of one instance of an approximate five-hour outage during his recent memory. Our new data center has appropriate power distribution, an upgraded expandable modern UPS system, and an added feature that will allow us to power our broadcast operations from a generator when needed.
HVAC / Environmental Controls & Monitoring – Our current data center is cooled by two in wall AC units and has minimal environmental monitoring. These units are considered disposable in that after a few years we have to purchase new ones and dispose of the old, wasteful to say the least. In our new data center we have installed appropriate HVAC solutions with fail-over ventilation if needed and have significantly increased our monitoring capabilities.
Fire Suppression & Monitoring – Probably the worst possible disaster to impact our current data center would be a fire. In this space, we have traditional water sprinklers meaning that if a fire happened in this space we would have 100% loss of all equipment in the room due to water damage. Our new data center has a water-less fire suppression system meaning that in the event of a fire the system would extinguish the fire without damaging any additional equipment.
Physical Security & Monitoring – Our current data center has no access controls or security. Our new data center has access controls, auto logging of who is entering the space along with video surveillance.
Each of the listed liabilities in itself can be a topic with many levels, approaches, and solutions. Keep an eye out for more post that goes into detail on many aspects of our new data center.