vshosting~

For most of us, 2020 developed completely differently than we imagined at the time of our New Year’s toast. The pandemic turned everything upside down and much still remains that way. Not all the changes were for the worse, however, and many plans got implemented despite the virus. Here are vshosting~ milestones of last year.

Turnover plus 20%

Each year since our founding in 2006, we have been proud of our quick growth. But 2020 was really something. Already in the spring, the coronavirus switched digitalization over to rocket fuel and everyone rushed to be online like never before. For us, it immediately meant another business peak comparable to Christmas, and since then the situation has calmed down only partially.

It was challenging, but we are pleased to say that we have helped dozens of clients move their business primarily to the world of the Internet. To another hundred or so businesses, we assisted with dramatically strengthen their existing e-shops. In numbers, this represents a year-on-year increase in turnover of as much as 20%.

Data center capacity grew by 2,500 servers

Thanks to the rapid influx of new clients (thank you!), our ServerPark data center has begun to burst at the seams. That is why we started to build the last stage of the data center, which we successfully completed last fall.

We used our technological reserves to the maximum and installed large 52U racks. This means increased capacity of the data center by about 2,500 servers! To keep up with such a boost, we also added 2 new transformer stations (800kVA and 630kVA) and increased the cooling capacity by adding 4 condensers to the roof and 2 new air conditioning units (each with an output of 100kW).

Connectivity increased to 2 x 100 Gbps

We also keep up with the growing data flows of our clients. Newly, vshosting~ has a fully redundant capacity of 2 x 100 Gbps to the NIX.CZ node. That’s five times more than the original 2 x 20 Gbps! We also upgraded the network technologies connecting our ServerPark data center with the TTC DC1 data center (this is used for backups in a geographically separated location and for the implementation of connections with other operators).

The new technology has a transmission speed of 2 x 100 Gbps and connects both data centers via two independent optical routes. All data transfers, including backups, are even faster and more secure than before.

German investor patronage

2020 marked a huge milestone for us because vshosting~ has become part of the German investment group Contabo. Contabo has hosting businesses growing across Europe as well as within the USA, and thanks to their support, we can grow at an even faster pace than before.

In addition to hosting, our new investors are also helping us kick off the long-awaited Zerops project, which we launched in a private version in August last year.

What will 2021 bring?

We will not be idle this year either as we are preparing a lot of news for you. First of all, the public version of Zerops won’t be long in coming – we plan to launch it in April 2021. You can look forward to a fully functional, automated platform for developers that will make their coding dramatically easier.

Another novelty will be the launch of an AWS-based solution. We thus cater to our clients who have shown interest in this opportunity, and we offer a more advantageous alternative for those who do not want to give up AWS completely.

Last but not least, we will dive into our long-awaited expansion to the Hungarian market, where we want to offer reliable hosting services for e-commerce projects.


vshosting~

In August 2015, we officially opened our own ServerPark data center in Hostivař, Prague. As a hosting service provider, vshosting~ had already been operating for 9 years at that time. However, with the launch of ServerPark, a new era began. The most important business lessons we have learned in the 5 years that followed could be summarized thusly: paranoia = the key to success, there’s no such thing as “can’t”, and herding cats.

Paranoia = the key to success

As hosting providers, we have paranoia in the job description already. If you also run a data center, this is doubly true. Maximum security and ultra-high availability of services are of the utmost importance for our clients. For this reason, we have implemented even stricter measures in our data center compared to the industry standard. We have doubled all the infrastructure and even added an extra reserve for each element in the data center.

In contrast, in most other data centers, they only choose the duplication of infrastructure or even only one reserve. It’s much cheaper and the chances of, say, more than half of your air conditioning units failing are minimal, right?

You know what they say: just because we’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not after us. Or that three air conditioning units cannot break at the same time. Therefore, we were not satisfied with this standard and we can say that it has paid off several times in those 5 years. Speaking of air conditioning: for example, we once performed an inspection of individual devices (for which, of course, it is necessary to turn them off) and suddenly a compressor got stuck in one of the spare air conditioning units. It would be a disaster for a standard data center, but it didn’t even faze us. Well, we just had to order the compressor…

Unlike most other data centers, even after 5 years, we can boast of completely uninterrupted operation. Extra care pays off, and this is doubly true for a data center.

We also rely on large stocks of hardware. So large that many other hosting providers would find them unnecessary. However, we have once again confirmed that if we want to provide clients with excellent service in all circumstances, “supply paranoia” pays off.

A great example was the beginning of this year’s coronavirus crisis. Due to the increased interest in online shopping, many e-shops needed to significantly increase capacity – even double it in some cases. At the same time, the pandemic around the world has essentially halted the flow of hardware supplies. If we had to order the necessary servers, the client’s infrastructure would simply collapse under the onslaught of customers before the hardware would arrive. But we simply pulled the servers out of the warehouse and installed them almost immediately.

There’s no such thing as “can’t”

Another lesson we learned from running a data center is the need to think out of the box. As hosting service providers and data center operators, we must fulfill the client’s ideas about their server infrastructure from start to finish. Having the “we can’t do that” attitude is simply not an option in this business. You either come up with a solution or you’re done for in this industry.

In 5 years of operating the data center, we have faced our fair share of challenges. Whether it’s designing a giant infrastructure for the biggest local e-commerce players or transforming an entire hosting solution into a brand new technology unknown to us, we’ve learned to never give up before the fight. The results are usually completely new, unique solutions, courtesy of our amazing admins. It is said that the work of an administrator is typically quite stereotypical. Well, not in our company. We have more than enough challenges for each and every one of them.

Of course, there are also requirements that simply cannot be met. The laws of physics are, after all, still in place. Also, sometimes the price of a solution is completely outside the business reality. Even in such cases, however, we have come to the conclusion that it is always worthwhile to look for alternative solutions. Of course, they will not be completely according to the original assignments, but you can come pretty close.

Summing up: we always look for ways to honor our client’s wishes, not for reasons why we cannot.

Herding cats aka how to manage a company with teams all over Prague

When we were building the data center, there were about 20 of us in the company. Above the data hall, we added a floor with offices and facilities with then seemingly unreasonably large capacity of 50 people. We figured that it would take us a good number of years to grow so much. In the end, it took only three.

Today there are about eighty of us (plus 5 dogs, 1 lizard, and 1 hedgehog working part-time). We’ve had zero chance of fitting into the data center for quite some time, so we’ve undertaken slight decentralization. The developers are based in Holešovice and sales and marketing reside in Karlín. From the point of view of company management and HR, such a fragmentation of the company presents a great challenge.

What were the lessons learned? Primarily, that effective communication is really hard but totally worth it. After all, many growing companies run into some type of communication trouble: once there’s more than 25 of you, it is no longer enough to naturally pass on information while waiting for the coffee to brew. When you combine this growth with a division of teams to different locations, the effect multiplies.

We have learned (and in fact are still learning) to share information between teams more regularly and in a more structured way to avoid misunderstandings. Because misunderstandings give rise to unnecessary conflicts, inefficient work, and general frustration. On the other hand, we are no fans of endless meetings with everyone. So what’s the best way to go about it?

For example, we regularly send everyone an in-house newsletter, to which each team in the company contributes updates about what they are doing, what new things they are preparing, and what has been particularly successful. Thanks to this, even a new salesman knows what technicians are doing for the success of our company, and admins understand why marketing wants them to check articles. We break our team stereotypes and constantly remind ourselves that we all pull together.

Our wonderful HR also makes sure that they show up in all our offices every week. That way they have a very good idea of the atmosphere everywhere in the company and the preferences of specific teams. A pleasant side effect are the spontaneous post-work tastings of alcoholic beverages, throughout which, as is well known, relationships are strengthened the most.

After 5 years of operating a data center and 14 running the whole company, we are by no means experts. However, we keep going forward, never stop working on ourselves, and most importantly: we still love it.


vshosting~

We made major upgrades to the infrastructure of one of the biggest e-commerce projects in the Czech Republic and Slovakia: GymBeam. And they’re not just some minor improvements – we exchanged all the hardware in the application part of their cluster and installed the extra powerful servers (8 of those bad boys in total). 

How did the installation go, what does it mean for GymBeam, which advantages do EPYC servers provide, and should you be thinking of this upgrade yourself? You’ll find out all that and more in this article. 

What’s so epic about EPYC servers?

Until recently, we’ve been focusing on Intel Xeon processors at vshosting~. These have been dominating (not only) the server product market for many years. In the last couple of years, however, the significant improvement in portfolio and manufacturing technologies of the AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) company caught our attention.

This company newly offers processors that offer a better price/performance ratio, a higher number of cores per CPU, and better energy management (among other things thanks to a different manufacturing technology – AMD Zen 2 7nm vs. Intel Xeon Scalable 14nm). These processors are installed in the AMD EPYC servers we have used for the new GymBeam infrastructure.

AMD EPYC servers processors

They are the most modern servers with record-breaking processors with up to 68 cores and 128 threads (!!!). Compared to the standard Intel Xeon Scalable, where we offer processors with a maximum of 28 cores per CPU, the volume of computing cores is more than double.

The EPYC server processors are manufactured using the 7 nm process and the multiple-chipsets-per-case method, which allows for all 64 cores to be packed into a single CPU and ensure a truly noteworthy performance.

How did the installation go

The installation of the first servers based on this new platform went flawlessly. Our first step was a careful selection of components and platform unification for all of the future installations. The most important part at the very beginning was choosing the best possible architecture of the platform together with our suppliers and specialists. This included choosing the best chassis, server board, peripherals including the more powerful 20k RPM ventilators for sufficient cooling, etc.  We will apply this setup going forward on all future AMD EPYC installations. We were determined for the new platform to reflect the high standard of our other realizations – no room for compromise. 

EPYC server platform

As a result, the AMD EPYC servers joined our “fleet” without a hitch. The servers are based on the chassis and motherboards from the manufacturer SuperMicro and we can offer both 1Gbps and 10Gbps connection and connection of hard disks both on-board and with the help of a physical RAID controller according to the customer’s preferences. We continue to apply hard drives from our offer, namely the SATA3 // SAS2 or PCI-e NVMe. Read more about the differences between SATA and NVMe disks.

Because this is a new platform for use, we have of course stocked our warehouse with SPARE equipment and are ready to use it immediately should there be any issue in production.

Advantages of the hardware for GymBeam’s business

The difference compared to the previous processors from Intel is huge: besides the larger number of cores, even the computing power per core is higher. Another performance increase is caused by turning on the Hyperthreading technology. We turn this off in case of the Intel processors due to security reasons but in case of the AMD EPYC processors, there’s no reason to do so (as of yet anyway). 

The result of the overall increase in performance is, firstly, a significant acceleration in web loading due to higher performance per core. This is especially welcomed by GymBeam customers, for whom shopping in the online store has now become even more pleasant. Speeding up the web will also improve SEO and raise search engine “karma” overall.

In addition to faster loading, GymBeam gained a large performance reserve for its marketing campaigns. The new infrastructure can handle even a several-fold increase in traffic in the case of intensive advertising.

Last but not least, at GymBeam they can now be sure they are running on the best hardware available 🙂

Would you benefit from upgrading to the EPYC servers?

Did the mega-powerful EPYC processors catch your interest and you are now considering whether they would pay off in your case? When it comes to optimizing your price/performance ratio, the number one question is how powerful an infrastructure your project needs.

It makes sense to consider AMD EPYC processors in a situation where your existing processors are running out of breath and upgrading to a higher Intel Xeon line would not make economic sense. That limit is currently at about 2x 14core – 2x 16core. Intel’s price above this performance is disproportionately high at the moment.

Of course, the reason for the upgrade does not have to be purely technical or economic – the feeling that you run services on the fastest and best the market has to offer, of course, also has its value.


vshosting~

We all know that backups are important. But what next? Is it enough to simply “have a backup” and be done with it? You can probably tell already that it won’t be that simple. Here top 5 questions everyone should think about as well as discuss with their hosting provider. 

1. How fast would the data recovery be?

An often overlooked but the essential question is the speed of data recovery from your backup solution. If you don’t pay attention to this, you can very easily end up in a situation where the renewal of your project takes 3 days (versus your expectations of 1 hour max). If you are a busy online store, for instance, 3 days offline constitutes a catastrophe.

The speed of recovery depends primarily on the amount of data you’re renewing and on the technology used. The data volume is given by the nature and size of your project – if you run an online business with a huge customer database, you’ll hardly be able to shrink it. However, even if there’s a lot of data to contend with, you can look for a solution that would allow for faster recovery (e.g. snapshot technology is much faster than rsync). Therefore, ask your provider how long data recovery would take in your case and if there are any options to speed it up. 

2. Which backup frequency is best for me?

Another crucial aspect of backups is their frequency. For example, at vshosting~, we include a standard backup package with each managed service that backs up all the data once a day. But if you decide that’s not good enough for you, we can easily provide more frequent backups – say, once every hour (if your production configuration allows for it). 

Of course, the more frequent the backups the more expensive your solution becomes because you need more storage space and infrastructure capacity. Especially if you want to keep all backup versions for 30 days or even longer. So, food for thought – how often do you need to back things up and how many versions do you need to keep stored? 

3. What if the backup fails or gets delayed?

With projects that require backing up a huge volume of data, there’s a risk of the backup not completing within the given time frame. For instance, if you run backups once a day, the backup process needs to finish in 24 hours. If it doesn’t, a delay can occur or the backup can fail entirely. 

At vshosting~, we prevent this from happening by using the ZFS filesystem as the default filesystem for all of our managed services. This filesystem natively supports backups via snapshots, just like the ones you know from virtual server backups. The snapshots ensure that the entire server is backed up as a single file. As a result, the process is super fast – almost immediate in fact. Even data recovery becomes vastly sped up thanks to snapshot technology (compared to rsync for example). 

4. Where is my data stored?

From a security point of view, it is absolutely crucial that the backup is stored in a completely different location than the primary data. Ideally in another data center at the opposite end of town. In the event of a disaster at the location of your primary data, the backups will not be compromised.

It’s actually similar to backing up your computer to an external drive at home. After completing the backup, it is ideal to take the drive to your mother-in-law, for example, in case your apartment catches fire or something.

5. How are the backed up data secured?

Apart from backing your data up to a separate location, it is essential from a security point of view how easily an unauthorized person can access your data. The main defense against this is data encryption and limited access to data. At vshosting~, encryption is a standard measure and the backups of our clients can only be accessed from our internal network. However, you cannot rely on such a standard with all providers.

Don’t settle for having “some backup” from your hosting provider. Be demanding and ask for specifics. Your project deserves the best care.


vshosting~

How do you recognize a great hosting provider from a sub-par one? To quote one of our colleagues: “It’s damn hard.”

Unfortunately, many of you will only learn the true qualities of your hosting provider when things get tough. A great hosting company solves problems proactively, quickly and nonstop. (And most of the issues it manages to quench before they fully manifest.) That’s why a lot of people only change their hosting provider after some very bad experience.

However, by then the inability of a hosting company will have usually cost you considerable money. Plus when looking for a new hosting provider, you know little more than before. The only improvement is that you can remove your existing provider from a long list of options.

Damn hard, yet not impossible

To determine a hosting provider’s quality is truly difficult but there are some indicators that can help you decide nonetheless. Award plus points to all hosting companies with their own data center, those who have support staff directly in the data center, 24/7, and to those providers that are happy to prepare a customized solution for you. 

On the other hand, if a hosting company is renting space in someone else’s data center hundreds of miles away from its headquarters, we recommend you rule it out at once. How will they fix your server if something goes wrong? The same goes for a provider with support staff that only work on weekdays from 9-5. It is well known that bugs and other problems notoriously rear their ugly head at 2 am on Saturdays. Ideally, just before Christmas.

Similarly, if a provider tries to squeeze your unique online project into one of their cookie-cutter solutions and doesn’t want to hear about customization, we recommend you run for the hills.

All of these markers can help you narrow down the list of potential providers. Unfortunately, it’s often not enough to make a final decision. Besides, there are also such companies that will tell you exactly what you want to hear. Then it becomes very difficult for you to figure out what’s the truth and what isn’t.

How to size up an intangible product

Hosting is a virtual service that you can’t just look at and evaluate. Therefore, some providers can promise you wonderful things that you’ll have difficulty verifying. For this reason, we recommend you go beyond the above-mentioned research and visit the company’s headquarters and data center.

Look into the data center itself, the backup elements they use, and even how many people are manning the support. It’s also essential whether the support staff are experienced professionals or whether it’s obvious they’re just some random students. Focus also on how the company manages server monitoring (does it allow them to discover a problem before it fully manifests itself?). All of this will help you judge how well the hosting provider takes care of servers entrusted to them. 

This tactic will further help you narrow down the list of potential hosting companies to the highest quality ones. You’re still not out of the woods, though. Many aspects are hard for you to gauge and clever salespeople can manage to hide a few skeletons under the data center floorboards. Therefore, it’s time to focus on quality indicator number one: references.

References, references, references

You’ve probably heard that in real estate what matters most are three things: location, location, location. Well, when it comes to hosting, it’s all about references. Thanks to them you can accurately estimate whether the given company can provide even more complicated solutions, whether they can customize infrastructure to your project and whether they’re a good fit for your business at all. 

Try to find out if your potential hosting providers have large and well-known companies that require customized complex infrastructure among their clients (such as Pilulka.cz). If so, it’s a great indicator that the hosting company can manage even extensive projects and won’t have a problem tailoring the hosting solution to your needs – no matter the size of your business. To give you an idea: at vshosting~, we host both the largest Czech projects with clusters composed of tens of servers and respectable clients who only have a single cloud server.

At the same time, focus on reference clients that have a business model similar to yours. Do you sell clothes online? Then you’ll be interested to know which hosting provider has e. g. Trenýrkárna.cz as a client. Do you run a digital agency? In that case, you’ll want to host with a company that provides infrastructure for e.g. Blueghost. And so on – you get the idea.

It is also important whether the hosting provider has experience with the technologies you use in your application. Therefore, ask also about concrete clients that chose the same technologies as yourself. Do you, for example, run a highly loaded MySQL database and need someone to take care of it, optimize it and ensure its operation in a high availability mode? That’s our daily bread at vshosting~ – we even take care of MySQL databases with terabytes of data in volume! 

But how can you rule out those companies that have no qualms about putting up a bunch of impressive logos on their website without actually having those companies as clients? Simple: ask for contact information of these clients and verify the references. Respectable hosting companies will have no problem giving them to you. On the other hand, if a company gives you a bunch of excuses about why they can’t give you their clients’ contact info, that’s a serious red flag.

References in the hosting business simply serve as insurance that whatever it is providers promise you, they can also deliver. 


vshosting~

It likely comes as no surprise that at vshosting~, we take security very seriously. Sometimes we joke that our measures are bordering on paranoia. But that’s our job. Only thanks to extremely strict measures and crisis scenarios fine-tuned to the last detail are we able to operate a data center that hasn’t experienced an outage since its opening in 2015 and provide our clients with maximum reliability.

In this article, we’ll take you behind the scenes and show you, how we protect clients’ servers and data from three typical threats: server sabotage or theft, a prolonged blackout, and cooling system failure.

Apocalyptic scenario 1: Server sabotage or theft

If some random vandals, or worse, your competitors, got their hands on your servers, that would spell real trouble. Not only would your applications (e.g. your online store) stop working but the thieves could access all your data. Fortunately, if you’ve entrusted your infrastructure to vshosting~, you don’t have to worry about this ever happening.

Our data center ServerPark is an impenetrable reinforced concrete cube with armored doors surrounded by a tall fence with barbed wire to boot.

https://vshosting.cz/tech

ServerPark data center

Not even that was sufficiently secure for us though, so we added a sophisticated security system complete with cameras. The system activates the moment anyone would, for instance, climb over the fence or try to break into one of the doors. The only way to get into the server room is with a combination of several keys, chips and an access code. If that wasn’t enough, each server rack is locked as well so making it to a server without clearance is next to impossible.

It is worth mentioning that we also protect our clients against cybernetic sabotage: DDoS attacks. Those can be easily (and cheaply) ordered online and the attackers can then overload your application rendering it inoperational. That’s why we developed our own anti-DDoS protection system, which effectively protects our clients’ servers. Saboteurs will, therefore, have no luck even if they decide to take the software route.

Apocalyptic scenario 2: Several days of blackout

Thieves, saboteurs, and other villains are taken care of but what if, say, there was a power outage? Any data center consumes a huge amount of electricity – so how would we manage a blackout? And what if the power outage lasts for a full week? It is exactly for these possible cases that we’ve installed a complex system at ServerPark that comprises UPS, i.e. a backup battery power source, diesel generators, and a diesel tank.

2 out of 3 diesel generators at the ServerPark data center

2 out of 3 diesel generators at the ServerPark data center

We also operate all of these elements in a so-called nx2 and n+1 mode. What that means is that we’ve installed two independent power supply branches (nx2). Each branch is assigned a one dedicated as well as one backup UPS (n+1) and has its own diesel generator and switchboard. At the same time, we have an extra generator that will switch on automatically, should any of the other two have a malfunction.

Each power supply branch also has its own set of batteries and each set is composed of 3 independent strings. This is the case because, for technical reasons, the batteries are set up as a series in each string. Therefore, if there was poor contact between two batteries, for instance, the entire string could fail. We also install 2 separate power sources to every server, each one simultaneously connected to both of our power supply branches: to independent UPS, switchboards, and generators.

So what would happen if there was a power outage? The data center would automatically switch to battery system power while our diesel generators would start turning on. Our batteries can fully supply ServerPark for more than 20 minutes. This provides ample time for the generators to start operating at full efficiency. After that, the data center would be fully powered by diesel generators. Thanks to our extensive diesel supply, we could operate like this for more than two weeks. To give you an idea, that’s several times more than most hospitals.

Apocalyptic scenario 3: Cooling system malfunction

We’ve handled the blackout then but there are other potential problems that could arise. A data center is full of electronics after all – what if some of it malfunctions? And what if the malfunction occurs in a key element, such as the cooling system? 

Servers create a lot of heat which is why they need to be cooled constantly to prevent overheating. If their temperature rose too high, it could cause server damage, destruction or even a fire. That’s why we implemented a robust cooling infrastructure along with a professional FM200 gas fire extinguishing system. Fire extinguishing should be off the table though – each of our servers has a safety switch that turns them off if they get too hot.

FM200 fire extinguishing system in the server room at ServerPark

FM200 fire extinguishing system in the server room at ServerPark

Our cooling system is just as robust as our power supply one: we have twice as many air conditioning units and other elements as we need plus an extra one in reserve. Many data centers only have that one reserve but we didn’t consider it safe enough. Cooling system failure in our data center is, therefore, about as likely as you getting hit by lightning while the sky is clear.

As you can see, our data center ServerPark is ready for the worst. Be it an attempt at sabotage, power outage or a possible malfunction, the quality of our services will remain constant. Due to our no-compromise security (and many other benefits), even the biggest Czech and Slovak internet companies have entrusted us with their online projects. Also, if you’re curious how we’re maintaining a 100% operation during the coronavirus pandemic, check out our previous article


Damir Špoljarič

Throughout the past 14 years, we have experienced a lot of difficult times, technical problems, and other complications. The current pandemic is different in many ways. It is not possible to prepare for such a situation in advance and design a detailed crisis procedure for it. Although this is nothing compared to companies that had to completely “shut down”.

During the first days, we’ve made some elementary changes (we’ve subsequently informed about them on social media). We have, perhaps, approached the situation with too much paranoia but our intense measures have two goals: to postpone (or entirely eliminate) the infection in our company and to maintain operation at all costs.

Preventing the infection

First and foremost, we’ve made wearing face masks mandatory for all personnel in the building. This was days before the government announced this measure country-wide.

We also banned the use of public transport and introduced corporate car rides using the capacity of company cars. At the same time, we allowed the maximum number of people to work from home, although in our case it is quite complicated and we have significantly reduced our staffing capacity.

In an effort to prevent contamination, we also restricted all foreign persons from entering the building and asked clients to do so only in the most urgent cases. We subsequently tightened this measure and introduced a total ban on the entry of foreign persons as well as clients and suppliers into the building except for emergency situations. Our teams of admins and technicians solve all other issues on behalf of clients so that visits are not necessary.

Furthermore, we measure the temperature of all persons entering the building, disinfect work stations daily as well as door handles, etc.

Preparing for anything

One of the early measures was also filling up our diesel tanks with fuel for our generators (tens of thousands of liters purchased). We don’t expect the state to “pull the plug” on electricity for companies but we want to be ready for anything. This way, we can endure a several-week-long blackout without a hitch.

On top of everything, we divided the management in such a way, that they cannot get infected at the same time. The objective is that the full managerial operation of the company remains intact even if someone falls ill, our strict measures notwithstanding.

Paradoxically, our volume of work during this crisis has remained the same or even increased. This is due to most of our clients being online stores that are currently experiencing a demand comparable to the one before Christmas. Not only food is sought after but electronics or even sports goods as well. However, thanks to our wonderful colleagues, we are managing everything just fine.

Full lockdown? We’re ready

We’ve also prepared for an emergency “island-like” operation if the company in the event that the state enforces a full lockdown after all (as data centers fall under telecommunications and are thus not exempt from it). The building is now fully stocked with food and other essentials to make the continual operation of the company and the data center possible.

A big thank you to all colleagues, they all approached the situation responsibly and devotedly. In these tense situations, the health and strength of each company team come to light. At the same time, I would like to assure our clients that vshosting ~ is still running at 100% and is ready for all crisis options.

Damir Špoljarič
CEO



Damir Špoljarič

vshosting~ is experiencing a growth boom in Q1 of 2019. The sales team has been fulfilling their plan at 200 % and has brought more new clients to vshosting~ in the first 3 months this year than they have in the first 6 of 2018. Among the new clients are e.g. the Japanese giant (and owner of Prazdroj) Asahi or large e-shops such as Eyerim, Brasty, Průša Research, and many more. With that growth, the need to expand our data center capacity. Let’s take a look at the expansion plans and a couple of interesting facts to boot.

The ServerPark Data Center

Last year, we’ve been trying to minimize the growth of physical server numbers, among other things due to increasing power electricity prices. Nonetheless, because of our numerous new clients, we need to add more physical servers. At the same time, we are currently implementing the third instance of the cloud for cloud managed servers and another central CEPH storage with the capacity of up to several hundred TB on SSD in the N+2 setting.

The ServerPark data center has originally been designed for 150 racks with a total capacity of up to 8000 servers. This capacity was divided into 3 stages, two of which are already almost completely full and the third will be built soon. Thanks to small innovations, we’ve been able to expand the planned capacity to app. 158 racks in total.

When it comes to power, ServerPark is designed for 1 MW (1000 kW) net power consumption by servers. For data center cooling, up to 12 x 100kW cooling units in the N+2 setting are planned to be installed, that is a theoretical 1.2 MW net cooling output.

Reality, however, shows, that thanks to the division of the data center into the cold and warm sections (the section, where the servers “inhale” the air of guaranteed temperature and humidity, and the section, where the servers “exhale” the warm air) and to the large difference between their temperatures (the bigger the difference, the more efficient the cooling process), the actual output of the cooling units is about 15-20 % above what the manufacturer states. The power supply backup is ensured by modular UPS units with the backup output of up to 2 MW in the 2xN setting, generators with the total output of 3 MVA in the 2xN setting, and a transformer station.

Time for Stage III

The building is prepared for all three stages, including elements such as automatic inert gas fire extinguishing system and a security system. For full equipment of all technological elements in the data center, we will need to install another substation section, put in additional modular UPS systems, and gradually add more cooling units in order to keep up with the third data center stage being filled with more servers.

Traditionally, the installation of tens of 185mm2 copper cables between the substations, UPSs, generators and transformer stations as well as battery room will be the toughest nut to crack. Another fun puzzle will be the addition of 22000V, high-voltage switchboards and of course the placement of new transformation stations and generators using cranes always presents a challenge. Project documentation already takes into account the building’s usage to full capacity, which makes all this a relatively simple task. Furthermore, we have already gone through this process when putting ServerPark stage II in place.

An interesting fact to mention is that despite the expectations and calculations in the data center project, the actual power consumption is about half the expected one. This is mostly caused by our use of modern technologies and the almost exclusive use of SSD discs. In other words – our data center’s power supply and cooling capabilities are considerably oversized.

Security First

The biggest vshosting~ priority in our data center is operational security. Everything else is secondary. As a result, you may notice our not too standard 2xN redundancy (doubled number of active elements) or the N+2 setting (two backup active elements). This means a significantly larger investment for us but we try to minimize the risk of an outage to the absolute minimum.

As a result, ServerPark is ready for a Prague-wide blackout thanks to an above standard diesel supply. Again due to increased security, the data center is located away from the main road and railway tracks as well as within the regulated airspace of the Czech military (MCTR Kbely).

We’re Not Done Yet

With the next ServerPark stage underway, we will gain enough time to build our second data center, ServerPark DC2 :-), where our emphasis on operational security will be just as strong, but the data center capacity will be about 3 times that of the first one and it will utilize unique technologies (fully direct current powered, own server construction, 3 types of combined free-cooling without the use of traditional cooling systems).

What other technological news do we have up our sleeves? We have successfully launched CDN locations in Seville and Bucharest and are planning to launch more. Aside from European locations, we will soon be launching our first POP in Asia, in Singapore to be precise. We are also working hard on getting an additional 100Gbps connection with another global operator.

Would you like to learn more about our data center? You can read all about it in our article called Technical background.


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