Wednesday, August 04, 1999

The first ever Direct Optical Co-location Center

Back in the dog days of August, when there wasn't a drop of rain near, I had an amazing tour of MSI Holding's facilities. As Christopher Levy of ClickHear drove me to the appointment, I was excited to meet with some Austinians, but had no idea of what was ahead. Well. I was in for the tour of my life! Now, Globix's facilities on Centre Street in New York are by no means shabby, but what I saw on this back road warehouse, just feet from some railroad tracks knocked my socks off.

MSI is now a Direct Optical Co-location Center (DOCC tm), and they have received the first ever certification by BBN Technologies, a business unit of GTE Internetworking for network architecture, security architecture and facility design. BBN Technologies is considered the “Father of the Internet” due to their pioneering efforts over 30 years ago that developed and invented what we now call the Internet. Through these alliances and certification, the DOCC offers clients top-notch, guaranteed hosting service in a state of the art, fault tolerant facility. For instance, if there's a power failure, the generators kick in to power the facility, which then feeds electricity back to them, thus continually being operational.

They also offer virtually unlimited bandwidth by bypassing local loops for access too, since the Internet literally runs into their building. Remember Victoria Secret's webcast? They used less than five T1's to access the Internet. Well, MSI has hundreds of T3's with direct optical connection to the Internet--they don't have to get access to the Internet--it's just in the other room and they plug right into it.

Lots of new media companies proudly show off their new facilities and mention the raised floors and lowered ceilings as technological advancements. Well, MSI had the original members of the Arpanet team converge in Austin for four months to consult on all policies and procedures and then certify the facility. Since BBN invented the Internet, they have the highest standards for it. Now those raised floors are fine if you've got someone who's always dusting under there, but what if the cleaning company doesn't show up all the time? The Arpanet team devised a better system of magnetic tiles for the floor and ceiling that attract and hold the dust away from the equipment.

The equipment and servers are also contained in highly cooled secure rooms with locking cabinet enclosures and the facility features the new Inergen Fire Suppression System. All this was revealed to me on August 4th, but on the 25th was the 30th anniversary of the Internet and their official launch day.

Ken Pogram, one of the members of the original BBN team, and now with GTE Professional Services, took some time this morning to speak with me a bit about their role with MSI and with their other clients. Their main focus is network security issues and helping their clients address these issues. With this as a main driver for their business, they are one of the top two or three firms in this area. They also work with ISPs targeting a niche audience. Typical clients could include ISPs for an ethnic affliliation that offers certain services; a company that wants to add ISP services to others that their customers already purchase (an electric company for instance); or a computer vendor or store that wants to offer this in a package. In MSI's instance, GTE was giving them a jumpstart to the progress they were making and planning on making. MSI's focus will now shift from building the facility to maintaining it, and with their rapid growth, there will be lots to maintain!