A Data Center by Design: Not just another brick in the wall
I have been fascinated by tornadoes my entire life. Ever since my first exposure to the twister in the Wizard of Oz (don’t laugh it seemed quite real and scary to a seven year old), I have always wanted to see one first hand. You would think that growing up in the Midwest I would have had plenty of opportunities, but the closest I ever got was video from Storm Chasers and the Weather Channel. That changed this last summer when I finally had the chance to see one up close and personal.
It was the middle of the day when the tornado warning sirens went off and my first reaction was to run to the front of our facility, push open the door and ‘check it out”. Maybe not the smartest thing to do, but when you love storms, it’s almost an irresistible impulse (that’s my story and I am sticking to it). Getting the door open was no trivial matter in itself as the front of the storm was packing winds of close to 75 MPH. The light rain coming down was actually moving horizontally, and part of me wanted to run out into the parking lot to see what it was like to walk in those kinds of winds. Now I know some of you are shaking your heads and labeling me as slightly nutty, but I bet at least some of you would have been tempted to do exactly the same thing. Somehow caution prevailed (I think it may have had to do more with the look I could anticipate from my wife when I explained to her how I got soaked rather than any sudden streak of common sense) and I stayed in the doorway.
Low and behold, as I watched about a quarter of a mile away that horizontal rain suddenly started to move in a in a giant slow circle, and I was able to watch the entire process as the overhead cloud started rotating, and the dark funnel slowly descended until it touched the ground. Totally awesome! I am still at a loss as to why it never entered my mind to take a picture or a video.
It was absolutely perfect! Nobody was hurt, and most of the damage was limited to some trees. Now, I have to admit that if I had been in my car or at home this experience would have brought with it a fairly high level of, well…fear. I have a great respect for the power involved in that type of storm and while I want to watch it, I don’t really want to participate in it. But I had the good fortune that day to be at work which is the Data Cave data center, a facility designed and built from the ground up to withstand winds in excess of 207MPH. If the tornado had decided to make a turn, or had come down right in our front yard all I had to do was take two steps back, let the door close, and I would be protected by rebar reinforced, 12inch thick concrete-filled block walls rated to shrug off an EF5 tornado. Now I realize all that design and construction was implemented to protect our clients IT equipment, but let me tell you if you have to be in the vicinity of a tornado that is the place to do it from.
Next time, I promise to take some pictures.