Isilon and Data Centers and Forklifts, Oh My!

Most of my blog posts are long and text-heavy. This one is short on text and mostly photos…

Over the course of my career, I’ve been in a lot of different data centers. Some have been in interesting places, strange places, and some under frighteningly high levels of security. I’ve installed, fixed, and administered compute, network, and storage gear in a lot of places.

ClusterHowever, this week, I got to experience something new. I went to a new customer site to help get a new EMC Isilon cluster (that’s it, in its original packaging, on a pallet in the picture on the right) up and running on a 10GbE network. The customer (who gave permission for me to use the pictures, but prefers to remain anonymous) wanted the cluster installed in their new manufacturing facility.

Most of the building is a giant open floor, complete with an overhead crane rated for 25 tons. There’s only a tiny portion of the building that has a second floor, so there’s no elevator. Oh, and the data center is upstairs…

So, our challenge was to get all that storage equipment upstairs.

Up there, through the door on the other side of the railing, in fact.

Up there, through the door on the other side of the railing, in fact.

At first, I thought we’d be carrying things up the stairs one box at a time, but it turns out we had another solution. First we had to prepare the upstairs…

Where "prepare" means "remove the railing"...

Where “prepare” means “remove the railing”…

Good. That pesky safety railing is out of the way now.

Good. That pesky safety railing is out of the way now.

OK, the railing was no longer in the way, but how were we going to get the Isilon 15 feet up? With a forklift, what else?

Our friendly neighborhood forklift operator.

Our friendly neighborhood forklift operator.

The next three pictures tell the story better than I could write it.

On its way up.

On its way up.

Ooh - so close.

Ooh – so close.

Ah, there we go - all the way up.

Ah, there we go – all the way up.

Why post this? Two reasons:

  1. It amused me.
  2. It was a valuable lesson. Every now and again I catch myself thinking that I’ve been in IT long enough that I’ve seen everything. Well, this was a first for me.
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