Steadfast Blog

New Core Routers in Chicago

Posted in Networking on August 24th, 2010

Note: As of July 2013 we are no longer utilizing Brocade MLXe-16 routers and have upgraded to Juniper MX480 routers due to their increased routing table capacity.

I'm sure at least some of you noticed the announcement this morning that we're going to be replacing our core routers. I figured it was worth a blog post to detail these changes and what they mean for you.

First of all, we've been using Cisco 6500 routers with the SUP720-3BXL management cards at our core, which handles all BGP with our carriers and peers as well as some customer VLANs, for many years now. These routers have worked out great and have served us well, but we're reaching the end of their useful lives for us, at least here in Chicago. There have been some incidents causing higher CPU usage levels than we'd like to see and some bugs on the BGP side, with the large number of sessions we have setup for peering and the like, and that had led us on the initial search for a replacement. It was clear the 6500 platform would not last us much longer as core routers in Chicago.

Our primary concern in looking for a new router was the processing and throughput capacity along with the density of 10 GigE ports and "future proofing." In the end, we selected the Brocade (formerly Foundry) MLXe-16, the newest member of the MLX family that isn't planned for official release until mid-September. It takes less of a footprint and less power than the CIsco 6500's, but gives us a significantly improved platform. We had also considered Juniper, and we love the Juniper OS, but we simply couldn't get the density and capacity we wanted.

Here is a comparison:

Brocade MLXe-16

Cisco 6500

Processing for up to 400 Million Packets per Second
640 Gbit/sec of throughput
40 Gigabit backplane capacity per module
Up to 32 full line speed 10 Gigabit circuits
No support for 40 GigE or 100 GigE

Brocade MLXe

Processing for up to 4 Billion Packets per Second
Over 6 Tbit/sec of throughput
240 Gbit/sec backplane capacity per module
Up to 128 line speed Gigabit circuits with current line cards, higher density line cards are in the works
Support for 40 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet are in the works and the backplane capacity exists to support it

As you can see, the Brocade gives us roughly 10 times the capacity as well as the ability to continue growing with 40 GigE and 100 GigE modules. In addition, the line cards for the Brocade all have their own forwarding processors. Having this distributed processing means that we are much less likely to face similar CPU issues as we did with the Cisco 6500's, and that we have significantly more processing power at the router level.

The pair of MLXe-16's we're starting with each come with 8x 10 GigE ports (SFP+) and 20 GigE ports (1000BaseT) and leave us with 14 additional slots for future expansion, including the possibility of 100 GigE ports. The units also each have redundant management cards, which allow us to do software upgrades and maintenance without downtime, redundant switch fabric modules, and redundant power supplies. These are extremely redundant boxes on their own, but we believe strongly in our 100% network uptime SLA and still choose to have two of these routers in place.

Note: The picture attached is from right after we got them and were doing the initial software upgrades and base configurations. Don't worry, they won't be sitting on the floor when we turn them live!

We've had our PXE boot system for doing automated installs for awhile now and I'm sure many of you with IPMI on your systems have seen this setup when you reboot your systems. Well, now we have full documentation for using our PXE system here: https://support.steadfast.net/index.php?_m=knowledgebase&_a=viewarticle&kbarticleid=60 This means if you need a reinstall of your OS you can perform it yourself, assuming you have IPMI or KVM over IP, which most systems come with now. In addition, it gives you access to all sorts of other diagnostics tools, such as disk utilities, rescue images, R1soft Bare Metal Restore, memtest, and many more. These tools can come in handy to help you restore your own system or fix an error you made without even needing to contact our support staff. We're giving you the control, but if you still need our help we're here for you 24/7! If you have any questions on using the PXE system or feel there needs to be some clarification in the documentation please contact our support staff.

We'll be throwing a party at HostingCon for our customers, fans, vendors, acquaintances, competitors, or whoever wants to show up. The party starts at 8PM, after the official networking event, starting 8PM on Monday the 19th at Parkside, 301 East 6th Street, Austin, TX. It is just a couple block walk from the convention center or the surrounding hotels. We'll be serving food, have an open bar, (Yes, I said OPEN BAR!), and have Guitar Hero on a projector for some entertainment. The party will go on until midnight.

We'd love to see you there, but the space is somewhat limited, thus we would recommend you RSVP by emailing sales@steadfast.net if you plan on going.

Leading dedicated server hosting company finishes construction of its 2nd Chicago data center.

Chicago, IL (PRESS RELEASE) June 29, 2010 – Steadfast Networks, a leading Chicago based data center and dedicated server hosting provider, announced today the opening of its new Chicago data center, located at 725 S. Wells St. The new Steadfast Networks data center will accommodate the expanding demand for Chicago colocation services and Chicago web hosting services in a state-of-the-art data facility. The initial phase includes 6,000 sq. ft. of raised floor data center space and 750kW of power and is the first phase of a 4.5MW build-out at the location.

“Our goal at Steadfast Networks is to give you highly competitive pricing in downtown Chicago without cutting any corners on performance and quality,” says Karl Zimmerman, CEO of Steadfast Networks. “We have the size and scale to easily deliver managed hosting services and colocation hosting services to small, medium, and enterprise businesses, but with a commitment to flexibility and the personal customer service often found in a small company.”

Chicago hosting services at Steadfast Networks meet the key parameters for operational sustainability – location, processes, and staffing. The new Steadfast Networks data center has a redundant dark fiber ring back to their original 10,000 sq. ft. location at 350 E Cermak Rd., the main telecommunications hub in Chicago, and 600 S. Federal St. allowing Gigabit Ethernet and 10 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity between the sites at affordable rates. The site will serve as a center for Steadfast Networks colocation hosting, Linux dedicated servers, Windows dedicated servers, and managed virtual servers.

“Not only is Chicago a center for commerce and finance, it is a vital link to premium colocation web hosting in surrounding regions,” says Zimmerman. “As a leader in dedicated server hosting, colocation hosting, virtual server hosting, and web hosting services, Steadfast Networks houses, transmits, and protects your essential data with the latest in data center security technology.”

In addition to providing web hosting and colocation services to Chicago-based businesses, the 725 S. Wells St. data center is a connection point for some of the largest IP carriers in the world including Level(3), AT&T, Verizon, Qwest, Abovenet, and Cogent. With its premier infrastructure and extensive data backup features, Steadfast Networks offers superior connection to metropolitan cities throughout the area with its web hosting and colocation web hosting services.

“Steadfast Networks Chicago data centers connect you to any provider in the buildings’ Meet Me Room (725 S Wells, 600 Federal, or 350 E Cermak), in Equinix Chicago, the Steadfast Financial Exchange, or the Chicago Internet Exchange with a wide array of connectivity options for T1, DS3, or Ethernet connectivity,” says Zimmerman. “The reliability of our infrastructure, our network, and our expert staff make Steadfast Networks a hosting provider our customers can depend on today and well into the future.”

For more information on Steadfast Networks’ new Chicago data center or to learn about Steadfast Networks dedicated server hosting, managed server hosting, and colocation hosting for your business, visit steadfast.net.

About Steadfast Networks

Established in 1998, Chicago based hosting company Steadfast Networks, delivers high quality, powerful servers through reliable dedicated server hosting, colocation server hosting, virtual private servers, shared web hosting, and dedicated game server hosting. Steadfast's award-winning services and dedicated support staff help customers from all over the world 24/7/365. Customers can choose basic hosting or a customized, fully managed dedicated server hosting solution.

To learn more about Steadfast Networks, visit http://steadfast.net/.

Chicago, IL (PRESS RELEASE) June 7, 2010 – Steadfast Networks, a leading Chicago based dedicated server hosting provider, announced today the opening of its newest data center in Manhattan, New York. With its recent acquisition of The New York NOC hosting company, Steadfast Networks is opening the Manhattan data center to provide highly flexible and affordable colocation and dedicated server services to Manhattan and surrounding areas.

“Manhattan is a major commercial and financial hub with a need for the highly available and scalable colocation hosting and dedicated server solutions we provide through the Steadfast Networks and The New York NOC brands,” says Karl Zimmerman, CEO of Steadfast Networks. “The combination of The New York NOC with Steadfast Networks makes the Manhattan data center ideal for businesses serving New York and the northeast region.”

Steadfast Networks’ Manhattan data center, located at 121 Varick St., offers cross connection to any provider in the building's Meet Me Room and an array of options for T1, DS3, or ethernet connectivity. Customers may also employ ethernet service to connect to other buildings in New York, such as 60 Hudson and 111 8th. Additionally, Steadfast Networks has plans to consolidate facilities in North Bergen, New Jersey and Commack, New York for full colocation and dedicated server hosting services out of the Manhattan data center.

“As a carrier-neutral New York colocation meeting place, our customers have easy access to dozens of other carriers and networks to carry out specific network strategies,” said Zimmerman. “And our new Manhattan data center offers a 100% network uptime service level agreement (SLA) so your mission critical data and email service is always available.”

Steadfast Networks and The New York NOC provide transaction-intense commercial, financial, and gaming sectors with customized and affordable New York colocation and dedicated server hosting services. The global reach of Steadfast Networks’ Manhattan data center enables these businesses to provide fast, secure data transmissions for local, national, and international users.

“In addition to the 100% network uptime SLA, Steadfast Networks offers a 100% power uptime SLA and a hardware replacement SLA,” said Zimmerman. “Steadfast Networks’ internal network and infrastructure are fully redundant and these SLAs prove our confidence in the reliability of these systems for web hosting colocation and dedicated server services.”

With the Manhattan data center consolidating Steadfast Networks’ New Jersey and New York based colocation services and dedicated servers, New York and surrounding area customers now have flexible, reliable and affordable colocation services with full redundancy from one location. For more information about Steadfast Networks and The New York NOC data centers, or to learn more about Steadfast Network colocation hosting and dedicated server services, visit steadfast.net.

About The New York NOC
Established in 2003, The New York NOC Inc. is a full service New York hosting service provider located in Long Island, New York. The New York NOC maintains its own hardware and does not resell hosting services. A knowledgeable staff of Linux/BSD and Windows experienced technicians provides dedicated, colocation, and VPS hosting services to hundreds of websites ranging from personal hobby sites to fortune 500 corporate companies. The New York NOC has built a strong reputation on providing top web hosting services backed by the industry’s highest guarantees.

To learn more about The New York NOC, visit http://www.thenynoc.com.

About Steadfast Networks
Established in 1998, Chicago based hosting company Steadfast Networks, delivers high quality, powerful servers through reliable dedicated server hosting, colocation server hosting, virtual private servers, shared web hosting, and dedicated game server hosting. Steadfast's award-winning services and dedicated support staff help customers from all over the world 24/7/365. Customers can choose basic hosting or a customized, fully managed dedicated server hosting solution.

To learn more about Steadfast Networks, visit http://www.steadfast.net.

There is also some additional coverage at Data Center Knowledge.

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