PhoenixNAP Power Infrastructure
Although many are familiar with in-rack PDUs, there are a few steps of breakers and such on the data center floors. The main feed into the on-floor power distribution (these are Eaton units below) is 480V power. As you may have seen during our cooling tour, the power story once again will take us outside.
As with many facilities, there are A+B power feeds that enter on different sides and take different paths into the facility. This data center is a medium voltage facility at 12,470V. One can see just how large the power infrastructure is here as Joe is filming some B-roll in the distance below.
Outside the facility, there is a fairly standard power conditioning and UPS stage. Something that is certainly a bit different here is that the long rows of batteries have ample air conditioners for the structures they are in. During the tour, it was ~100F / 38C outside and it gets warmer in the summer. We discussed how Phoenix does not get hurricanes, but it also usually has clear skies as can be seen below which means all of this equipment has to withstand many hours of direct sunlight (no cloud cover) and high temperatures.
The A+B battery banks are designed to last 60 seconds for the entire facility in the case of a power failure.
If the power was cut, within 3 seconds, six 2MW diesel generators are on-site to provide power. A megawatt is generally called enough power for 400-900 homes. The generators are in larger structures that almost look like shipping containers with vents and chimneys. Each of these structures houses two generators and there is on-site diesel storage. As with the water, there are multiple supply contracts to ensure supply continuity. The 2021 Texas freeze that brought down the internal network of one of the country’s largest insurers was due to its facilities being in Texas without proper facilities/ supply contracts in place.
Although not related to the actual power delivery, one may have seen the below in some of our photos.
The facility is in the desert but there are occasional “monsoon” rainstorms that come through infrequently. Those have lightning and so the walls around the entire facility have these air terminals that are designed to direct lightning strikes and protect the facility. Although it may have made for interesting photos/ video, there was no rain forecast for the next two weeks after we were there. Admittedly, this was a fun detail we wanted to share and this was the closest section to be able to do so.
We often discuss “data centers” but we usually cannot film and tour them. From the outside, most data centers look like either office buildings or industrial warehouses/ factories. There are many different types of facilities out there. While we often discuss differences in terms of rack power capacity and total facility megawatts, there is a lot more that goes into data centers. A great example of this is how facilities have to be matched with their environments. As we move into an era where 5G moves more equipment from the traditional cloud data centers and back towards edge data centers, this becomes a bigger topic. Hopefully, this article and video will give our readers some idea of just how much goes into a data center.
Thank you to PhoenixNAP for letting us tour the data center and helping with travel. Also to the PhoenixNAP team for showing us around. Most data centers we visit are very different but it is great to get to show one on camera. Some of our readers deal mostly with hardware or software and do not get to see behind the scenes at facilities to know what the key components are.
Also, I just wanted to say a quick thank you to Joe for coming down to Phoenix from Seattle to film and edit the video portion of this piece. We did this just as COVID-era restrictions eased and after we were both vaccinated. Still, it took some extra effort to get this done.
As always, please let me know if this is something you like to see and we can work on doing more data center tours in the future.