Steadfast Blog

Improved Phone Service

Posted in Our Customers on November 5th, 2009

We are in the process of changing VoIP providers for our sales/support services.  As a part of this change, we are also improving the reach of our phone support services.  Now, our toll-free number 888-281-9449 will work from both the US and Canada, instead of just the US.  These changes are also noted on the Contact Us page of our web site.  We have also added a new number for our UK customers (44)2033181415, which should help reduce their long distance bills. Hopefully these changes will make things easier on our Canadian and UK based customers.  If you experience any issues with the new number or the new VoIP provider/system please contact us and we will work to resolve those issues promptly.

If we have further demand to add more international numbers, we will do our best to meet everyone's needs.  We are only looking to extend coverage to countries where the primary language spoken is English, as we currently only offer support in English and do not want to mislead potential customers into thinking we offer support in other languages.

Not much has changed at the site so far.  The finishing touches are getting put on the architectural drawings, we're waiting on permits, and demolition should be beginning next week.  I do have some updates as to some final decisions we have made though.

1) We will be using 20" raised floors.  Under the raised flooring we will simply have chilled water, water sensors, etc. so it will be clear for the airflow from the HVAC units.

2) For cooling, we will be using chilled water provided by the building along with a set of four 70 ton HVAC units, giving us N+1 redundancy.  We will also be using an air side economizer to draw in filtered outside air during the cooler months, of which we have many here in Chicago.  Combined with the building's economizers on the chilled water side, our overall energy consumption should be greatly reduced, giving us a greener and more sustainable facility.

3) Power in the facility will be backed by an N+1 redundant UPS system over a single bus, unlike 350 E Cermak where we have a single UPS system on each an A feed and a B feed.  We have found that most customers do not dual-cord their equipment, so this configuration offers greater redundancy to that single corded equipment.  There will also be, of course, generator back-up.

4) We will be using an IDF on each floor and installing patch panels in each cabinet by default, with 4 or more pre-run cables.  This will then allow us to do all cross connects easily and quickly with a single patch cable in the IDF.  This should speed up deployment of any cross connects internal to the facility.

5) We will be using a Starline bus-bar system for power delivery.  This system will allow us to offer customers with greater flexibility, as we will not need to wait for electricians to install additional power circuits.  Our own staff would be able to easily and quickly install whatever voltage and amperage you may need on a circuit, decreasing install costs and improving turn-up times.  In addition, the Starline system will allow us to easily monitor each individual feed remotely and using automated systems, improving overall monitoring and thus reliability.

Also, last time I went through I was able to get significantly better pictures and from what I've just said above, you can tell there are going to be significant changes to this space over the next several months.

Here is a good overall view of where the raised floor space will be.  The main entry is directly to the left, the area that is going to be used as the mechanical room and IDF is right past that along the left, then behind that even further is the freight elevator and the bathrooms.  Behind where this picture is looking would be where our office space will be.

This next picture should give you an idea of the primary office space.  The walls straight ahead are going to be taken down, and the office space will be along the full front of the building, back to the first pillar.  Directly behind where this picture was taken is the space for the conference room.  Overall, it is significantly more office space than we're working with currently, with actual windows to the outside as well!

Then here is something I didn't show in the previous set of pictures, the 7th floor space.  Our main data center and office is on the 8th floor, but we also have over 2,000 sq. ft. on the 7th floor.  The space on the 7th floor has a kitchen, with room for some tables, etc. a storage room, and two rooms that can be used for overflow office pace or to allocate for customer office space.  This is the kitchen section of that space, though all the cabinets and appliances are going to be getting replaced anyway.

If anyone has questions about our new data center space, don't hesitate to ask!

NANOG/ARIN Follow-Up

Posted in Networking, Tech Events on October 29th, 2009

I said I would give updates on NANOG and ARIN if anything interesting happened, but I was so busy then, and when I returned to Chicago, that I just hadn't had time to write about it until now.  First of all, I have to say that both events were great, as was the Global Peering Forum event on Tuesday night.  I would encourage anyone in the field to go to these events to learn and to be able to converse and share ideas with people with common interests.

Now, at NANOG, much of the talk seemed to be on how to make things more complicated, thus I won't touch on those things here, but there are three things that I will cover.  First of all, I highly encourage everyone go through the How to Accurately Interpret Traceroute Results presentation.  Even if you're pretty familiar with traceroutes, it is a very in-depth presentation and I'm sure you'll learn something.  One of the other ideas mentioned that interested me, was the overall idea of expanding the current idea of an Internet Exchange, making it a full MPLS based metro network, allowing companies to get ports with the exchange for private interconnections over specific VLANs or as a public exchange, as most exchanges are currently configuraed.  Overall, the idea would be to make interconnectivity even easier, no matter wether or not the company you want to connect to is in the same building as you or not.  FInally, NANOG served as a great opportunity for us to meet with many of our existing peers and to talk to other networks that we are now working to peer with.  It is always nice being able to put faces to the people you're communicating with via email.

As for ARIN, it is quite evident that the IPv4 run-out is in fact a dire issue.  Sure, we might have IPs for about 2 years yet, but that really isn't that long, and many changes needed to implement IPv6, such as in software and harware platforms may take that long to implement.  We have been fully IPv6 capable for many months now, and encourage all customers to get IPv6 address space so that they are prepared for the change.  To help push people towards IPv6 we are no longer charging the one-time fee for IPv6 allocations.  As IPv4 space does run out, we will likely be forced to charge more for IPv4 resources, as there will be a point where we simply would not be able to get any more IPs, making them a scarce resource.  The best way to mitigate the need for those more IPv4 addresses is to be prepared with IPv6.  Yes, IPv6 is not in common use now, but when IPv4 runs out, the change will likely happen very quickly.  You'll want to be prepared in advance of the change, or you are in danger of losing significant business if you're not prepared to move over to IPv6 when everyone else is.  I am not trying to scare you.  I am telling you that you need to be prepared, and we provide you with all the resources you need to be prepared as far as network and hardware.

If anyone has any questions about any of the topics discussed above, just post a comment on this post an I'll be happy to answer your questions.

NANOG 47 and ARIN XXIV

Posted in Networking, Tech Events on October 17th, 2009

Kevin and I, Karl, will be headed to Dearborn, MI tomorrow to attend the North American Network Operators Group (NANOG) and American Registry of Internet Numbers (ARIN) meetings/conferences.  The NANOG event goes from Sunday the 18th through Wednesday the 21st and ARIN picks up on the 21st and continues through Friday the 23rd.  The NANOG events will allow us increase our knowledge in new technologies and trends, with various presentations and discussions on BGP policies, networking hardware advancements, new/evolving security threats, etc.  At ARIN, we will be able to participate in discussions regarding allocation and management of IP space as well as the overall transition to IPv6.  Due to the high number of industry professionals at these events, we will also be able to develop relationships with many other networks and be able to meet face-to-face with many of our current peers.

I am expecting these events to be informative and beneficial for expanding relationships with other network operators, but I doubt they'll be all that exciting.  If there is anything we feel is especially interesting, or even exciting, we will be sure to tell you here on the blog.  If you are attending NANOG and/or ARIN, feel free to come and introduce yourself to Kevin Stange or I, Karl Zimmerman, the more the merrier.

Palo Alto, CA Peering Now Live

Posted in Networking on October 16th, 2009

We now have a live GigE to PAIX Palo Alto and have fully established our POP at 529 Bryant in Palo Alto.  Peering sessions are live over this circuit and we are now accepting new peers.  This POP and peering location have now given us a nationwide coast-to-coast network and should open up many new peering opportunities, including larger nationwide ISPs/carriers and Asian Pacific networks/carriers.  This is now our 8th public peering point, as we are already connect to Equinix Chicago, the Chicago Internet Exchange (ChIX), Equinix Ashburn, New York International Internet Exchange (NYIIX), PAIX New York, the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX), and the London Internet Exchange (LINX).  Soon we should also have peering at Any2 California, in San Jose and Los Angeles.  This peering is established to extend our network reach and to give us faster and more direct connectivity to a diverse number of networks, with the goal of increasing overall network quality.

If you would like to peer with us at any of these locations, please look at our publicly posted peering policy: http://steadfast.net/corporate/peering.php

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