North American Network Operators Group

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Re: Building a NOC

  • From: Sean Donelan
  • Date: Mon Mar 23 00:48:37 1998

>Some urban archaeologist is going to take up a research project that
>investigates why certain artifacts predominate under raised floors.  In

Pocket protectors? Slide rules? Any other items nerd/engineers carry
in their shirt pocket that falls out when they are head-first into the
raised floor.

>Do think of underfloor drains. They are your friend. In close to 30 years
>of working with computer rooms, with all the emphasis on fire protection,
>I've never had a computer room fire.  I have, however, had several major
>floods related to fire protection -- a couple from water running downhill
>from a fire fought on a higher floor, two from burst sprinkler lines
>(improperly protected from freezing), and more from ordinary plumbing
>emergencies such as clogged and overflowing toilets.

Floor drains are good.  But once again, you need to have a chat with
your designer & inspector about what, why, when.  Anti-backflow valves,
and floor sink traps are mandatory.  Automatic trap primers seem to lead
to flooding.  For example, St. Louis County recently opened a new jail.
However it was delayed three months because the week before opening when
they discovered if all the toilets were flushed at the same time on the
eighth floor, as prisoners are known to do, the sinks exploded on the
bottom floor.  The plumbing designer had followed normal industry practice
for commercial buildings, but forgot jails house a user population that
is different from a normal commercial building.

Like most disasters, you may not be able to prevent flooding, but you
can mitigate some of its affects.  Hit the E.P.O. and unfurl the plastic
tarps you have stored & handy for just this emergency.

>Putting equipment on high, rather than low, floors can protect it.

Pick your disaster scenario, low-flying airplanes or high-flowing water.

>Another local factor that MUST be considered in certain cities, and can be
>far worse to deal with than building inspectors, is the local electrical
>union.  Some are great craftsmen and incredibly helpful.  But there are
>also cities where a union may perceive the data people running low-voltage
>circuits as under their jurisdiction...and cables have been known to be
>cut.  Some of my New York friends have worked out very specific personal
>procedures to get on good terms with the shop steward Local 3 of the IBEW
>before starting a specific project.

Competent union electricians are a joy to work with.  Incompetent craftsmen
are not.  Incompetent union craftsmen are [expletive deleted].  Just because
the NEC includes Article 800, doesn't mean the typical electrician has a clue
how to properly install communication wiring.  On the other hand, I've found
the same thing to be true of a lot of data people.

A fun factoid, in 100% of the power audits conducted by American Power
Conversion ( they found violations of the NEC.  Admitly
this is a self-selected sample.  People don't normally have a power quality
audit done, unless they are having power problems.  But it does show using
union electricians, and passing a building inspection doesn't always mean
a top-quality job.

>I wonder if any of the TEMPEST manuals have been declassified?  THey never
>were at a terribly high level, and had some very nice general engineering
>in them.

Not yet.  Although I've been trying to figure out how to buy the old
MCAUTO (McDonnell-Douglas Automation) Data Center and turn it in to the
Mid-West high-tech co-location space.  In addition to a three-story,
multi-football field long data center, and a backup power plant a small
city would envy, it is rumored to have so-called black-project rooms with
TEMPEST/EMP/EMF/RFI/TLA... shielding.  InterNIC and PSI could co-locate
in the same building, and not run into each other even in the parking
lot.  I've only seen one cafeterria in the building, so that could be
a problem :-).
Sean Donelan, Data Research Associates, Inc, St. Louis, MO
  Affiliation given for identification not representation