Inside PAETEC's New State-Of-The-Art Data Center

Grand Opening

CRN was invited to take a behind-the-scenes (and under the floor) tour of service provider PAETEC's latest data center in Andover, Mass. The new data center is PAETEC's third and complements the two in Pennsylvania (Conshohocken and Bethlehem). It's also the first of four new data centers PAETEC (which was recently honored as one of CRN's 75 Coolest Telecom Companies) plans to open in the next few months, with more to follow in Houston, Milwaukee and Phoenix.

The new flagship data center will serve mostly New England customers and provide data, voice and Internet solutions. It also serves as a massive step forward in PAETEC's support of cloud computing. The two-story, 92,700-square-foot data center sits on six acres and features roughly an acre -- 42,850 square feet -- of raised floor space.

Here's an inside look at PAETEC's new data center.

Ready For Action

Shown here is the first floor data center space at PAETEC's new Andover, Mass. data center. So far, customers haven't moved in yet.

Chris Lodge, PAETEC's vice president of data center services, said the new data center will offer data backup and recovery to ensure customers regulatory compliance, disaster preparedness and business continuity. It will also offer dedicated hosted services and shared web hosting.

The building that houses the new data center was originally built in 1986. It was built ground up to be a data center by New England Telephone & Telegraph for about $25 million. After roughly $6 million in investment and renovation -- PAETEC replaced every electrical component in the building -- the 8-month-project is now ready for prime-time and will start running next week.

Redundant Power

The new PAETEC data center has four transformers on site and has fully redundant power to the grid. The site has four primary and four secondary power feeds that enter and leave the property in different directions to ensure it runs uninterrupted.

Shown here is one of the four massive transformers that powers the data center. Everything is split and redundant between the four banks.

In The TAC

PAETEC's new Andover, Mass. data center will be staffed by a 24-by-7 Technical Assistance Center (TAC) and only authorized personnel will be allowed to enter. To enter the main facility, entrants must first go through a "man trap" a small corridor next to the TAC (shown here) in which the one door won't open unless the previous door is closed and the entrant has the proper credentials and permissions.

Locked Down

All doors at PAETEC's Andover, Mass. data center -- internal and external -- are fitted with card readers and each time a card is run the car holder's name, photo and information is displayed in the Technical Assistance Center. Along with cards, a thumb print is necessary for access into the main data center. Badge activity is stored for two-plus years.


Each room and corridor is peppered with discreet cameras (shown) that sense even the slightest motion. Video is stored for 90-plus days.

Additional security measures include driveway sensors that tell staff when someone has arrived.

Lodge said the data center will also be SAS 70 II and PCI compliant.

Overall, he said "unless you're supposed to be here, you won't get in."

Keep It Cool

On day one, the second floor of PAETEC's new data center (shown here) will go live. The data center will run in a "hot aisle/cold aisle" fashion and be kept at a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit, plus or minus two degrees, and at 45 percent relative humidity. The building leverages 2,000 tons of cooling capacity via evaporative, chilled water.

"The days of running a data center like a meat locker are long gone," Lodge said.

Privacy, Please

While customers can keep cabinets and cages on the main data center floor, PAETEC also offers private suites for customers that require a bit more data privacy. The private suite shown here will soon be occupied by a large New England regional bank and will drive $98,000 per month in PAETEC's direction. Lodge said the suites are designed for customers who want their data completely partitioned off. The private suites -- of which there are several -- can only be accessed by badge.

Fire Protection

PAETEC's data center is protected by VESDA (Very Early Smoke Detection Apparatus). Think of it as a smoke alarm on steroids. The VESDA system senses smoke, heat and dust and constantly monitors the air for abnormalities. PAETEC's lodge said the VESDA system will send an alert even if something as small as the sulfur from a struck match is detected.

The Backbone

Here's a look inside the core backbone of PAETEC's new data center. This comprises gear from PAETEC's main partners, like EMC and Cisco, to keep operations running. It is fully redundant


The PAETEC data center has four 500 KW UPS systems on site and the company offers a 100 percent SLA on power and cooling, Lodge said. The data center's power supply is backed up by five, 1,400 horsepower, one-megawatt generators with 30,000 gallons of diesel fuel. According to Lodge, the backup generators could run the data center for eight days if it is at full capacity.

Keep It Quiet

The diesel generators rest atop four feet of concrete to cushion the noise. If the generators click on, most of the outside world would only hear a slight hum, if anything at all, due to their ability to absorb sound and vibration.

In Your Ear

The data center is outfitted with dozens upon dozens of speakers. The original designers wanted all pages and announcements to be heard regardless of the hum of gear or a person's location.


Four massive chillers (shown) in the data center's mechanical plant ensure the places stays cool. They cool water passed through an elaborate system to produce the cool air for the data center.

Make It Rain

Inside the cooling towers it's always raining. The falling water is collected below and from there it is pulled out by pumps where it is cooled to 62 degrees. It ultimately reaches 42 degrees where it passes through the chiller. Here, water filters into a reservoir below to be pumped and cooled.