Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Lab Experiment

I've mentioned our new testlab in a couple of tweets, so I thought I'd post some more information about what we're doing. The MDF in our new data center is quite spacious and well equipped. It includes 45 heavy-duty 2-post Panduit racks, overhead infrastructure for power cables, low-voltage copper cables (ie Cat5/6) and fiber, 36 inch raised floor and 1,800 AMPs of DC power. The production equipment is being built out from the front of the room toward the back, so we reserved the last couple of rows (10 racks total) for "test" equipment.

We've compiled a fair amount of equipment that can be used for testing and we also have a lot of equipment that moves through here to be "burned-in" and configured before it's sent into the field. All this equipment needs a place to live either temporarily or permanently. We have equipment from Ciena, Juniper, Infinera, Cisco, HP and others. Up until now it's be spread across several facilities, most of which had inadequate space, power and/or cooling. So we're very excited about having a wonderful new facility !

It's been amazing how much demand there is for this kind of testing environment. Equipment has been moved in quickly and as soon as people found out it was there, they wanted to use it. It's very clear that we'll need to designate a "lab czar" to make sure we maintain some semblance of organization in the lab - and it's clear that the lab czar better not be me ! The grand vision is to have a lab environment where engineers can "check out" specific devices, automatically build cross-connects between devices to create the topology they need and have the device configs reset to default when their work is completed. We're a long way from this, but will hopefully keep moving steadily in that direction over the next 12-24 months.