by Cheryl G. (Poncer)
Question: What is larger in area than 8 football fields, is a constant 70 degrees Fahrenheit and powers information all over world from a little corner of Georgia?
Answer: The Data Center where the PBS Servers live.
This was the venue for a recent Atlanta Area PBS Meet-up. For an un-techy like me, the facility was fascinating. I can only imagine what tech savvy members were thinking as they toured the facility, understanding what they were seeing much better than I. Server cabinets in every direction, as far as the eye can see.
Temperature control, power supply cabinets, backup power supply cabinets, the whirring of cooling fans and the awed hush of all the bits and bytes of information that was being transferred through this building at any given second. I couldn’t help but think of how far we have come in just a few short years from messengers, to the Pony Express, to Air Mail, to telegraph, to telephone and now to a place where information is just a few key strokes away from us.
The safety measures at the facility are very high. 24 hour security, cameras on every square inch, triple and quadruple layers of identification, like ID badges, fingerprint scans, retina scans and visual comparisons are needed before anyone can get into the inner sanctum where the server cabinets are, and the cabinets are locked too. Cameras are not allowed inside the facility, and every visitor must provide valid picture ID just to get into the lobby of the building.
The PBS Team thought it would be a great place to let some of our member see behind the scenes into the workings of this amazing facility. 120 members from around the Atlanta Area were invited to meet with the PBS Team and Tour Guides.
Several members were allowed exclusive access to tour the facility floor with PBS Founder, Richard Pickering and to see the PBS servers, up close and personal. Everyone else had a mini tour, where they were permitted to see out onto the massive floor from an observation room.
After the tours, Brendon, from the Data Center gave a presentation with facts and figures about the facility.
The building is in a valley, to protect it from tornadoes, and is built with enough reinforced concrete to withstand a category 3 hurricane. (Which would be very rare in NE Georgia)
Utility power is provided via 4 independent redundant Georgia Power feeds, and from 3 separate power sub stations. If power goes out in one, the feed is automatically switched to another, if that one goes out the feed is switched to the third one. If all the power is out, backup generator protection is provided by 6 Caterpillar 2.25 MW diesel units. These units can keep the facility running as usual, for 6 days before they need to be refueled. The electric bill runs to hundreds of thousands of dollars a day, and they are billed every day for it. EVERY DAY!
The floor of the Data Center is raised 48”, the cooling is provided by 200-30 ton Lieberts provide air flow to the raised floor space. The cooling system also has its own generator backup, 6 – 2.0 MW generators.
Next on the agenda:
Richard led a Question & Answer session with the PBS members. The PBS Team, Site Volunteers and members all shared a lot of great information about how the site works, including information about site features like Gold Key and the Wish List.
After a break for snacks and time to meet new friends and catch up with old friends, there was a rousing game of PBS Trivia. With prizes ranging from PBS pens and travel mugs to brand new books, everyone was a winner! With prizes and new friends made, this was a wonderful afternoon well spent.
Thank you, Richard and the PBS Team, the PBS Volunteers and Staff who coordinated this event, the staff at the Data Center, and all the members who attended!