Building the Best Lego Data Center for Juniper


What is this, a data center for ANTS?

So Ashton Bothman, social media goddess for Juniper Networks, dropped off a datacenter kit (right) for me last week. Alas, there were no actual routers in the gallon zipperbag, but that’s probably for the best.

I was chosen as one of about a dozen people to take a bag of Legos and a large gray building base, and build “The Best (Lego) Data Center.” It’s a charity thing; each participant gets to direct a donation to a 501(c)3 charity of their choice, and the best ones get a bigger donation to direct. And we get to play with Lego for a good cause.

So I got to thinking about the three datacenters I’ve worked in most. One was a Savvis facility in San Francisco, another was the Equinix SV2 center in Santa Clara, and a third was Switch in Las Vegas. They each had unique quirks which I thought I could integrate without violating any NDAs or getting kicked out of any of them.

We were allowed to add pieces that didn’t come in the kit. I had a little box of Lego my friend Derek gave me when he was cleaning out his storage unit, and I did go out and spend $7.99+tax of my own money to get a kit for the two mini-figs that came with it. I hadn’t realized at the time that I had the box from Derek, or that there were a couple of figures in the Juniper kit.

But at the most obvious level, Juniper provided the foundation for my datacenter. So I don’t think they’ll mind my going a bit overboard with added parts.

Let’s take a tour of the datacenter, shall we? Please leave your food and drink outside the computer, and we do not advise flash photography.


Here is the entry. Unlike some datacenters where you walk up a ramp to the raised floor, here we’ll walk down. The friendly security personnel are on the turret at the bottom, ready to watch over and protect you at all times. Please have your ID handy.


Here we see the security guard at his post. No doubt the red and green lights will tell you if you’re allowed in. And as you can see, this data center has everything, including the kitchen sink.

As you can see from this angle, tape is not dead. It's alive and well in our datacenter. And our backup operator may be a fan of Devo, or of Troma Films, I'm not sure which.

As you can see from this angle, tape is not dead. It’s alive and well in our datacenter. And our backup operator may be a fan of Devo, or of Troma Films, I’m not sure which. And that might be a pizza oven there on the left, but don’t tell the security folks.


Here is our cable jockey attempting to connect a power drop himself. I tried this once, didn’t electrocute myself, but didn’t endear myself to the datacenter facilities team.
A fun aside here, those grey ladder racks are actually power-carrying blocks. They’re not connected in the datacenter but they could be.


Speaking of power, we of course have generators in the back. Here, the power skipper monitors the control panel, because his alarm light there is blinking. And his cables are loose. I hope he figures out what’s going on before the alarm klaxon goes off.


Here is the other side of the generator assembly. It seems well-vented. And you can see some of the solar panels on the right–this is a very green data center.


We have a very security-conscious data center here. Police on site to guard the receiving dock.


Here we have another view of the receiving dock and solar tower, along with our motorized cart to help you get your deliveries to your cage. Remember, no cardboard on the datacenter floor please.

I'm sure many of you will understand that, at a certain point in a day of data center work, you just want to dance.

I’m sure many of you will understand that, at a certain point in a day of data center work, you just want to dance.

And while data centers don't generally have kimonos, here we've pulled the roof back to show you the whole place.

And while data centers don’t generally have kimonos, here we’ve pulled the roof back to show you the whole place.

Thank you for touring my data center.

If you’d like to see some of the other data centers on the tour circuit, here are the ones I’ve found.

If anyone else would like to be linked, let me know. Looking forward to hearing next week who Juniper chooses as the top datacenter builders!

Sorta Sad Panda – End Of Support Life for Some Netscreen/SSG routers

I was just looking up some Juniper gear I saw in a local auction… and discovered that the wheels of progress are indeed rolling along.

According to the Hardware EOS Milestone page, the NetScreen 5XT and 5GT, cute little firewall/vpn boxes that seem to be all over the place, reach their end of support life on June 30th and December 31st, 2013, respectively. Considering they were announced as EOL about 5 years ago, this isn’t a big surprise.

I was a bit concerned when the same page reported that the replacement products, the SSG-5 and SSG-20, had their EOL announced in December 2011, and their “Last Date to Convert Warranty” and “Same Day Support Discontinued” date is April 29th of this year (4 weeks away). But it looks like this only applies to the Japan, Korea, and Taiwan versions. Whew.

However, some further digging… and I see ScreenOS is on its own End Of Life path… 6.1 is gone, 6.2 has through the end of 2013, and 6.3 is gone at the end of 2015.

I actually use an SSG-20 with the ADSL2+ PIM for my store’s Internet connection… and while it’s not under warranty and I don’t expect to need support, this did make me wonder what I should consider for my next CPE need.

I’d be tempted to put together an SRX240 with DOCSIS and ADSL2+, but best price I can imagine for that is $2k or so, which is more than I want to spend on this project. So maybe I’ll drive the SSG-20 into the ground, and deal with the problem when it arises. There’s always a spare ADSL2+ modem in the cabinet just in case…

Why so blue, panda bear?

I’m not all that sad, to be honest. But I have a habit of going with old technology until it no longer does what I need. Or until it’s cheaper to replace than to maintain, which can be the same thing.

Heck, I have actually installed Windows XP in the past month… and it stops getting updates any day now. And I’m used to far worse support prognoses–I’m looking at you, Cisco Linksys, with the “it’s a year old? Oh, no updates for you!” policies on a lot of your home network gear (wouldn’t be so bad if it was stuff that can run DD-WRT or OpenWRT… but RV042 and the like aren’t a fit there).

Anyway, this gear has had a good run, in the market and in my own environment. So I’ll keep an eye out for new and better gear within a minimal budget, and see where the world takes my networks.