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Data Center Staff Will Sleep Among the Racks For London Olympics 210

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-room-in-the-house dept.
1sockchuck writes "Staff at Interxion's London data center are ready to hunker down during the Olympic Games this summer, nestled in snug sleeping pods adjacent to the racks. The arrangement will ensure that the facility will be fully-staffed if London's transit system is taxed by the huge crowds expected for the Games. While staff in many industries might object to a plan that expects them to sleep in their office, data center firms have a primary calling of keeping their facilities operational at all times. Is this too much readiness, or just enough?"
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Data Center Staff Will Sleep Among the Racks For London Olympics

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  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:02AM (#39657125)

    IT people don't sleep.

  • Depends on pay (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:03AM (#39657137)

    Are they getting paid to be on duty 24/7?

  • WHAT?!? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:04AM (#39657145)

    WHAT DID YOU SAY?!? I CAN'T HEAR YOU OVER ALL THIS FAN NOISE!

    (Hey Filter, learn to take a joke. I'm trying to act like I'm YELLING.)

  • by Hero Zzyzzx (525153) <dan@@@geekuprising...com> on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:04AM (#39657149) Homepage
    As long as it's voluntary, compensated and not a long-term thing it can be enjoyable to "batten down the hatches" for an expected surge in demand.
    • by ElScorcho (115780) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:34AM (#39657573)

      Yeah, if they are the types who actually enjoy their jobs and get along with their coworkers this could be a lot of fun. It might get old towards the end, but I personally wouldn't have a problem with it. If nothing else you'd be much closer as a group after something like that, plus I bet they'll all have fun stories to tell when it's over. Not to mention that if they have a decent employer who knows what they're asking for there'll probably be free food for that time.

      The only point of friction might be optimal sleeping spots. No one wants to sleep in the hot aisle, and you'd probably need earplugs.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        I'll take proper pay and buy my own food, thanks.

        • by NFN_NLN (633283)

          I'll take proper pay and buy my own food, thanks.

          They could have spent money on load testing and/or extra redundancy before hand to reduce the risk of issues. There are some things that can't be solved by throwing money at it, and this isn't one of them. It just so happened that taking advantage of IT staff was the cheapest solution. Sadly, it usually is.

          The first solution would of had long lasting positive implications. What are they going to do during the next big event or even a crisis?... call in more IT staff again?

          • If I were the employer and I was running this type of high-profile event, I might do both: Redundancy can fail, and load testing only proves what you've tested, after all. Having someone on hand to fix things immediately will prevent a crisis should something unexpected happen.

            Of course, as the employee, I'd want extra pay, and other compensation (extended time off after? Extra vacation? An award plaque for sure would not be enough...) for this.

          • Their stated reason is fear of breakdown in transport. Implying that on duty staff would be stuck there, off duty staff would be at home. Coincident with the only real maximum load they will ever see.

            Setting up sleeping and washing facilities is unusually human for the employer. Most would throw you a package of wet wipes and tell you to bring your camping gear.

            If transport continues to work I assume responsibilities will be handed off. Then again slackers will surely slack.

    • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland.yahoo@com> on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:44AM (#39657723) Homepage Journal

      Any work request made to an employee who doesn't have any force behind them is never truly voluntary.

      People will remember you aren't a "team player". Of course those same people get to go home at night.

      • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @11:24AM (#39658285)

        That's what I loved about my Japanese boss back when working for a Japanese company. He was there as long as I was. His rule was that he's the first in the office and the last one to go home. It may sound trivial considering that I didn't really need him for anything (me being technology, him being beancounting), but it is superior in morality to "ok, you stay here 'til midnight and finish that ... whatever, I'll be off for some golfing".

        • That is what I liked about one of my former bosses, before he moved on. I'd get called in on the weekend to do something, or stayed late, and he was often here as well doing something on his own despite being salaried and able to go. There were times I was leaving on a weekend call-in and he'd be coming in. He lived an hour away.

          Coincidentally, he did study management methods used by the Japanese.

        • by 1u3hr (530656)
          It's what I hated about a boss I had. he would be at his desk till midnight and made it clear that if you weren't as well, you were slacking.

          Except that he was often slumped over his desk in the afternoon, asleep; or in a trance state. Which he would deny.

          I think it had something to do with the exceptionally poor business decisions he made too.

        • by Ihmhi (1206036)

          His rule was that he's the first in the office and the last one to go home.

          The whole "come early, leave late" thing is actually one of the shittiest parts of working in Japanese culture:

          Arriving early for work is common in Japan and shows commitment to colleagues and seniors. It is therefore not uncommon for Japanese workers to arrive 30 to 60 minutes early for work. Additionally, leaving work late expresses the same sort of commitment. Usually, the first person to leave will show his/her apology by saying “Osakinishitsurei shimasu” which translates to “excuse me for going first”. Generally, it is considered bad practice to leave before the boss does.

          Source: http://www.liveworkjapan.com/customs.shtml [liveworkjapan.com]

          The practice is starting to wane, but do some Googling and find out how shitty it really is. Apparently, if you come to work on time and leave on time, you're "lazy" no matter how productive you are in the office.

    • by Asic Eng (193332)

      You also need to have enough facilities (showers, rest rooms, kitchen, fridge space) and it needs to be safe, considering that there might be more than the usual number of people in the building.

    • by v1 (525388)

      As long as it's voluntary, compensated and not a long-term thing

      agree, agree, and agree. Its not too different than being on-call. Getting paid to sleep, I would find that awesome. And if something does take a crap, mmmm I'd love to wake up to the smell of overtime pay :)

    • by himself (66589)

      "Voluntary, compensated and not a long-term thing" you say? So, then, not like this guy [livejournal.com] whose blog as a Katrina-stranded sysadmin was so absorbing...but possibly required reading for .uk admins who might get this gig.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:05AM (#39657165)

    If....

    a) It's for a short time (check)
    b) It's critical (check)
    c) There's enough people on-staff to rotate who's doing this (not sure)
    d) There's substantial reward/overtime/extra PTO/something for doing something like this (not sure)

    So, it's 50% reasonable, maybe completely reasonable IN THIS CASE.

  • by necro81 (917438) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:06AM (#39657169) Journal
    Well, that makes perfect sense! Do you know what a flat in London goes for these days? Twice that if you want climate control! I am thrilled to hear that the datacenter company cares so much about the well being of its employees.
  • by Fallen Kell (165468) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:07AM (#39657195)
    I mean come on. We keep our data center staffed 24x7 and do not need anyone sleeping there to do it. This is called simply not paying for what they need. If they need 24x7 support, they simply need 3 shifts of workers.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:10AM (#39657237)

      From description...it sounds like the London transportation system may be overwhelmed and they simply may not be able to get replacement staff in the center in a timely manner.

      • by NFN_NLN (633283)

        From description...it sounds like the London transportation system may be overwhelmed and they simply may not be able to get replacement staff in the center in a timely manner.

        If these guys are "soooo" important then maybe they should get the appropriate "rock star" treatment.

        I say fly them in by helicopter!

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        What I want to know is, why did they choose a data center in the middle of the city? Why is any data center in the middle of the city? The beautiful thing about the internet is that the datacenter can be located where ever you want. Also, very few people are actually needed on-site to keep a data center operational. Most of the people who actually administer the systems could easily work offsite, possibly from home.
    • by berashith (222128)

      if the entire idea is to be prepared for difficulty with mass-transit, then they have screwed up. I was in atlanta for the olympics when everyone panicked over transportation, and there were no problems, and Atlanta is a city that has all kinds of traffic problems when not inundated with foreigners! They may need to have staggered shifts and odd start times to avoid peak traffic, but otherwise this just sounds like panicked stupidity.

      • by PybusJ (30549) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @11:21AM (#39658249)

        Interxion have got their message about how seriously they take their customers uptime and how far they go to plan for eventualities out to readers of Data Center Knowledge (and now to Slashdot). I'd say money well spent, regardless of whether anyone will use the pods for more than publicity shots (or even if Interxion seriously expected them to).

        That said, I'm not sure that Atlanta compares to London in terms of aging, and seriously creaking transport infrastructure. e.g. Atlanta has what is supposedly world's airport handling 90m travelers on its five runways; Heathrow handles 70m on just two runways both of which operate at over 98% capacity (plans to add a third were dropped when the current government was elected). The Victorian metro system is similarly overloaded having the distinction of being the oldest in the world while having to serve a population of almost 8 million.

    • by Dan Dankleton (1898312) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:13AM (#39657279)
      From how I read it the problem isn't that they don't have the shifts, it's that the shift workers may not be able to get into or home from work.

      This is simply risk management. There is a risk that staff might have trouble commuting, so they are mitigating that risk.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:14AM (#39657301)
      Of course they know how shifts work: that's what they're doing now. The problem is the Olympics: most of the large data centres in London are right next door to the main Olympic site. Travelling in or around London, particularly anywhere near East London, during the Olympics is expected to be a complete nightmare. I was warning a previous employer two years ago that they had to start planing for the three months period when it was unlikely any of the staff would be able to travel to the data centre in London (let alone finding somewhere to stay overnight for out of hours work: the London Docklands Travelodge would be right out!)

      So yeah, knowing the density of data centres in the area and how close they will be to the Olympics, this sounds like a pretty damn sensible idea, to me.
    • by b0bby (201198)

      The Olympics is certainly going to cause some problems for commuters in London. As the poster above noted, this seems like more of a situation where if you can't get home/are worried that you won't be able to get back in tomorrow due to the overload on the transportation network you could crash in one of these things. The other thing, of course, is that the company might be installing them just to get this kind of "look how much we care about your data" type of publicity...

      • The other thing, of course, is that the company might be installing them just to get this kind of "look how much we care about your data" type of publicity...

        This is exactly what they're after.

        I worked in Salt Lake City during the Olympics and the local news was talking about how we should expect our commute times to triple, especially if travelling around the venues. My commute went through Salt Lake City and Park City, past a ton of the venues, and I was expecting a nightmare. I ended up leaving 2 hours early and arrived to work 2 hours early the first day. After that I just left at normal time, the nightmare transportation scenario didn't pan out at all..

      • by PybusJ (30549)

        the company might be installing them just to get this kind of "look how much we care about your data" type of publicity

        Do you think? Seeing as this has now made the BBC [bbc.co.uk] news, complete with image showing the interxion logo, I'd say the pods have paid for themselves already :-)

  • Hot Sex Pod (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Internal Modem (1281796) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:08AM (#39657213)
    The video is very optimistic about who will be sleeping in it (unless she's charging the IT guys hourly: Sexy Worker [podtime.co.uk]
  • by OzPeter (195038) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:09AM (#39657223)

    It's the preeminent world class sporting event that is only held every 4 years for which most of the entire world tunes in. And for which you'd be lucky to get a job at for only once in your lifetime. Wouldn't you expect people to go that little extra distance - If not for the money, but for the pride of saying you contributed?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:15AM (#39657311)

      It's a silly sporting event that happens every few years. It's not like they're landing on Mars for the first time or something.

      • It's a silly sporting event that happens every few years. It's not like they're landing on Mars for the first time or something.

        Actually we are landing on Mars during the London Olympics!

        The nuclear-powered Mars rover Curiosity should arrive there around August 6th, smack in the middle of the Olympics.

        And I expect the coverage of that event to be WAAAAY more exciting than any of the Olympic events.

        G.

        P.S. Unless the new Rover ends up following the Simplified Planetary Landing Approach Trajectory that was so popular with some other Mars missions in the past.

    • by b0bby (201198)

      This isn't for Olympic staffers, just a data center company in London.

      • by OzPeter (195038)

        This isn't for Olympic staffers, just a data center company in London.

        Nowhere in London will be immune from the buzz generated by the olympics, and being a part of it (even if it is a small part) will garner pride. And if all goes well, the people working there will have access to see all the olympic media 24/7. And if the data centre crashes and burns, they'll have the knowledge that the whole world is depending on them.

        And while I have never worked on such a high profile job, 2 years ago I designed and coded the HMI that is used for humidity monitoring on the USS [wikipedia.org]

    • by Asic Eng (193332) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @11:07AM (#39658037)

      It's great that you enjoy it, but different people like different things, and that's fine. It's fine as long as you don't expect *others* (who may not be interested in the least) to go that extra distance for it.

      Personally I find it hard to see past the betrayal of every ideal the Olympic games ever stood for, the cheating in form of drug use, the abuse of children to push some nation's medal lists, the obscene waste of money to build an unnecessary sports infrastructure and the organized corruption which drives the selection of the location.

  • by game kid (805301) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:23AM (#39657403) Homepage

    But you're still hungry.

  • by SirDrinksAlot (226001) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:25AM (#39657421) Journal

    Obviously they need to lock an IT jockey in each server *CAGE* and they will be responsible for those racks 24/7. Food should be brought them in pellet form and water dispensed from a large water bottle that requires it be licked to release it's Dihydrogen oxide goodness. Replace the floors with screens so they don't need to install any sanitary facilities other than like a garden hose to hose it down every once and a while. Even make it into an attraction and charge fees to tourists to view.

    IT jockey's arent people are they? If so this idea is wrong. Now if they were treated with some dignity at least then that's different. Also if you get paid for every hour you're on site or compensated accordingly then I probably wouldn't complain about making piles of money

  • by Tom (822)

    They could've at least given them something closer to Tokio capsule hotels. And I sincerely hope they have showers and such on-site.

    Aside from that - sure, why not? You can do stuff like that for a short time in a once-in-a-lifetime situation.

  • I hope they don't use carbon dioxide for fire suppression in the data center....

  • Air Con (Score:5, Funny)

    by pablo_max (626328) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:35AM (#39657589)

    The actual reason is that it is one or the few places guaranteed to have air con in the coming super hot English summer.

  • by Picass0 (147474) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:39AM (#39657649) Homepage Journal

    Considering the Olympics only runs for 2 weeks I can see where a condition of the job would be on call 24/7. Television never sleeps. So why didn't they build hotel rooms into the IT center? Why a bunch of stupid pods?

    • by bryan1945 (301828)

      1) The IT buildings were built before London got the Olympics?
      2) What are you going to do with hotel rooms afterwards? Let random people sleep in your datacenter overnight?
      3) It's cheaper.
      4) It's only 4 weeks (figure week ramp up and cleanup).

  • by bulldog060 (992160) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:42AM (#39657691)
  • by Zcar (756484) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:45AM (#39657741)

    But there's money to be made in subletting a flat during an event like the Olympics. I lived in Lake Placid for the 1980 games and my father's department head at the college rented his house for $30k for the two weeks.

  • That's what the Sonny said.

    Would it be possible to order some of these 'Olympic' datacenter beds online?

  • So, this is what they mean by "lights-out datacenter".

  • Who is watching porn on the small screen, and potentially vibrating his pod which is next to your pod?

    And, what if you find out he likes - ya know - THAT kind of porn? ICKY !!!!

  • On second thought, maybe not so much.... maybe not so wise...

  • For IT workers? Can't they just install some sort of automated system to try turning it off and then on again?

  • If real is what you can feel, smell, taste and see, then 'real' is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain

  • Looks like the hibernation chambers on the shuttle.

  • This reminds me of how I spent 12/31/1999, sitting in a windowless conference room with a bunch of co-workers, watching the rest of the world have fun.

    Meanwhile, because we had all done the legwork months ago, nothing bad happened. If the management has such low faith that their systems will work they should either pay up for the good stuff (hardware, code, etc) or get out of the business. I think you could even keep a Windows 95 machine running for a month.

  • by MikeTheGreat (34142) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @11:50AM (#39658753)

    While staff in many industries might object to a plan that expects them to sleep in their office, data center firms have a primary calling of keeping their facilities operational at all times

    I love how the summary neatly dismisses the objections of the employees by citing the goal of the corporation. I can see this working well for a variety of other problems that the data center firms face, but let's just jump to the one the MBAs are salivating over:

    While staff in many industries might object to working without pay or benefits, data center firms have a primary calling of keeping their costs low and profits high

  • Let's see, no extra pay, and now every other company that demands 100% uptime can cut the pay of every other IT employee that refuses to live in the datacenter 24/7. Hooray!

Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it. -- Perlis's Programming Proverb #58, SIGPLAN Notices, Sept. 1982

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