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Island of hardware - Data Center

Amazon web services (AWS) was born in 2004 out of Amazon's womb right after Amazon scaled itself to the levels 10B annual revenues from all its businesses including the Retail. At the time, the name Amazon Web Services refers to a collection of APIs and tools to access the catalog, rather than the Infrastructure as a Service it would eventually become.

While AWS was shaping up in late 2000s, James who was a system engineer in one of the biggest financial enterprise(Bank of America), was celebrating his 54th birthday in month of July, his friends and wife arranged a surprise party for him..

"Happy Bday James"!! .. Sandeep who was Director of Infrastructure at Bank of America, walked into the living room with a hand full of goodies and a meeting invite from chief evangelist of AWS(newly formed offspring from Amazon).

"Hello James, its pleasure to connect with you .. AWS co cordially invites you to our annual Re:Invent event, where AWS would love to hear about your recent Data Center build out operations for Bank of America"

Sandeep read the invite from AWS.

James for a moment transfixed into a gaze and got lost in the moment, the moment he was waiting for four years suddenly manifesting itself in front of him.. Congratulations James, his wife Stephanie with her infectious smile Patted James' back.. This is amazing news Sandeep..thanks for bringing this up today and thanks for all your support.. James got out of his transcendence and acknowledged Sandeep while Stephanie stood besides him ..

"It's our pleasure James", with sense of achievement.. Sandeep shook James' hand..

"You were the backbone of our infrastructure buildout, with out you our merger with Merril Lynch will never be completed, a whole new data center in suburbs of new jersey with state of art servers, networks and self energy management systems was no less feat.. you deserve to be called out and AWS calling you to there flagship annual event is the gift you throughly deserve James, Enjoy your birthday" .. Said Sandeep.

Party went on till 2 am, rookies from MIT who were doing internships at Bank of America and helped James from connecting servers with switches and installing them on racks to pulling ethernet cables from network ports and connecting them from point to point .. One of them hold the keys to brand new Security module Bank bought to keep there private keys safe.. They all spend countless nights fulfilling developer's tickets to deploy proxies in demilitarized zones..

Tonight they want to just let go....

Drinks were flowing and evening was lit with stories of how they all pulled off something totally unimaginable.. Music add on to the energy and a lull and family oriented neighborhood suddenly started beaming burst of energies in form of light and sound.

While it was late evening on east coast, sun was setting in over puget sound and it was a beautiful view from 13th floor of Amazon office in Seattle. Jeff was writing documentation for a new service which Amazon was planning to introduce to developers to handle Queue infrastructure , it was later called Simple Queue Service . It was an experiment, or probably an initiative.. initiative to make developers life easy, to bring infrastructure closer to them, little Jeff knew that these services will become backbone of infrastructure in coming times....

Amazon Simple Queue Service: Fully managed message queuing for microservices, distributed systems, and serverless applications

Jeff was also the chief evangelist in Amazon and was first of the engineers in AWS, his main role was to take AWS to developers.. AS MANY AS POSSIBLE. Apart from writing documents for developers ( which were later called Blogs ) he also wrote invitations to engineers around the world to join him in annual events to present and collaborate on the experiences in there enterprises.. James' Bank of America data center build out was one such experience Jeff wanted to come out in community of developers so that AWS can learn directly from the enterprises about how to bring services which can effectively reduce the time to procure, build and deploy hardware or softwares for the coming up features..

"From 6 PM onwards all operations in this new data center is under supervision of our offshore Tech Lead Nitin, and for next 2 weeks till the AWS Re:Invent we will increase the coverage and request Nitin to handle the operations fully so that you can get bandwidth to create the best presentation for upcoming event James!! "

said Sandeep.

James was stoked, He wanted to tell a story.. his story, this data center was his baby and now he it will be known to the world. He started putting all "what he built" on a paper.. First draft outlined and detailed 3 main components he built to put together a Data Center for Bank of America and Merrill Lynch.

Servers: are likely the most well-known component. These devices manage and process data. Modern server infrastructure also includes cloud computing and virtualization. This technology enables businesses to access servers remotely.

James recalled further 3 kind of servers he procured to build his Data Center.

Types of Servers in a Data Center

Network: The ''network'' in a data center is the system of cables, routers, and switches that connect all devices within the data center. It allows data transfer between different locations, both internally and externally.
Switch - Connect compute devices to network.
Router - Connects two (or more) networks or sub networks
Hubs: Networking device that serves as a central connection point within a local area network (LAN).
Whats the difference between Router and a Hub?
Router transfers data in the form of packet. Hub transmits data in the form of electric signals or bits. Router is very sophisticated device and widely used. Hub is simply primitive type of device and is not generally used.

Network devices were all over the place and not only limited to switches, routers and hubs, the list grew as he carried on inventorying all the devices and hardware he procured to build this massive giant center of hardware. Six more components surfaced, some of them pointing to storage....

  1. Network bridges
  2. Wireless access points
  3. Brouters (or bridge routers)
  4. Multiplexers
  5. Care routers
  6. Cable modems

Storage: handles how data is stored and retrieved. It also ensures the security and availability of data.

James' data center has plethora of hard drives, tape libraries, and other storage media such as optical discs. 

The list went on and on as he digged deep into security systems, power supply systems, cooling and HVAC systems.

While James was creating his presentation along with architectural diagrams, Jeff in Seatlle was busy working API schema which he AWS can expose and all of this process of building infrastructure is abstracted from developers and businesses..

Call an API to spin up a Server in some remote data center and make it connected with a Storage and Network all via an API Call.... A leap in computing was ready to reveal itself and islands of hardware will merge in themselves to form a Forest ..Forest of Compute, Forest of Intelligence.

Next UP .... SuperBowl is 4 months away..