Windstream - Open Mike Night with Mike Ditka and Mike Singletary

Equilibrium attended “Open Mike Night”, an event hosted by our partner Windstream, to announce the grand opening of their new Chicago data center. Mike Ditka and Mike Singletary spoke at this event and took pictures with the guests. In my opinion, Windstream’s brand new Chicago data center is an unbelievable new facility.

It is designed to meet the most demanding requirements for high availability. It has true n+n redundancy in all aspects, so that anything within the facility can be taken offline for maintenance while preserving full operational capabilities.

This state-of-the-art Windstream data center is located in suburban Chicago in an 89,000 foot data center specific facility, with nearly 16,000 feet of raised data center floor space. It is supported by a NOC and engineering staff with 24x7 coverage, and provides extensive physical security, as well as protection from nearly every possible adverse event. Some of the data center services available to customers from Windstream include colocation, dedicated servers, disaster recovery (DR), connectivity, and security. A customer can obtain a “bare metal” rack with power and connectivity, a dedicated set of servers hosted by Windstream, or a hybrid set of cloud based “VM” virtual servers hosted by Windstream. Of course, a mix of these options can also be chosen. Which we call public, private or a hybrid cloud solution.

A typical scenario might be, a client chooses to move to a collocated data center because of increased high availability, and the costs to build this level of infrastructure in-house are too high. Strategically, it is better to locate critical IT systems offsite from a Business Continuity Perspective (BCP). The 3 main scenarios of BCP are 1) loss of a facility, 2) loss of IT, and 3) loss of company staff. Lwindstreamlogo01ocating critical IT systems offsite ensures that in the event of a major business disruption, the company’s internal IT staff are busy dealing with only 1 of the 3 major scenarios, not 2. Disaster Recovery (DR), accounts for one of the 3 major BCP scenarios. Windstream also offers enhanced disaster recovery services, DRaaS. Critical servers and data can be replicated to any number of Windstream Hosted Solutions data centers located across the US. Typically a remote / distant city location is chosen, geographically separate from the main location, so that a regional disaster doesn't impact both sites (think hurricane or an earthquake). Customers often have their own servers and equipment, so start out by moving their own equipment into their own racks (or cages) at a high end data center like Windstream’s new Chicago data center. Once the equipment gets to be end of life, then the customer can either buy new equipment, or start to migrate servers and applications over to a hosted VM environment within the data center.

This often becomes more cost effective, and moves the cost structure from capex to opex. It also shifts the IT lifecycle / hardware upgrade burden to the external provider, so that in the future, upgrades become one less thing for internal IT staff to worry about, and management to budget for. Since Windstream owns 115,000 miles of fiber, connectivity and bandwidth into this new data center is a breeze!  Of course, there are multiple, redundant fiber pathways in and out of the facility, so a backhoe can’t disrupt service into the building. We have seen instances where fiber connectivity into a customer building can take up to a year if fiber installation is needed, and redundant fiber pathways are not available, leading to potential single points of failure. Another big advantage to customers of being in a data center owned by a major carrier, is that in the event a bandwidth upgrade is needed quickly, it can be provisioned and delivered much more quickly than at a customer site. The data center is already “wired” for multi-gigabits of speed! A tour of these Windstream facilities can be easily arranged. Please contact your Equilibrium Sales Representative to schedule a time.


Other features of the Windstream Chicago Data Center include:

Special building Features

  • 89,000 sq. ft. data center specific facility on a dedicated campus
  • 15,650 sq. ft. of raised floor / data center area
  • Onsite support NOC and engineering staff 24x7x365
  • Secured cages, full cabinets, and half cabinets for customer equipment
  • Lightning protection throughout the perimeter, rooftop, electrical and mechanical support infrastructure
  • Data Center entrance requires secure two-factor authentication into secure areas
  • 36-inch raised floor to support 1200 lbs per square foot
  • Air conditioning is supplies via the raised floor for more efficient and effective cooling of computer equipment – there are dozens of redundant Liebert AC units in the facility
  • All infrastructure components are concurrently maintainable – true n+n redundancy and high availability
  • Motion-driven cameras watch every door, aisle, cage, cabinet, NOC and other secure support rooms
  • Building is constructed of masonry and steel construction
  • An electrical grounding system in in place throughout the data center to provide connections to the raised floor, posts, cages and cabinets


  • 24-hour physical security (guards) monitor cameras, door position, and badge access areas
  • A camera on each doorway
  • Door access to data center requires two-factor authentication consisting of biometric finger scan and access badge
  • Biometric finger scanner verifies unique finger geometry image and a heat signature before allowing entry into the datacenter

Cages / Cabinets

  • Cages require unique laser-etched keys
  • Windstream maintains control of all keys and access to cages and cabinets, and all access requires an escort from security personnel
  • Strong sheet metal cages with no hand and foot holds are available for larger deployments


  • 2N or “system plus system” power design
  • 2500kVA of initial power distribution capacity with each customer cabinet served with redundant A-Side / B-Side power feeds
  • Two massive 2000kW Cummins backup diesel power generators each with 4000 gallons of fuel storage
  • Windstream generators are tested weekly at no load and monthly at full load
  • Multiple MGE 8000 625kVA arrays for true 2N redundancy within the electrical system
  • 1550kW of initial usable UPS critical load capacity – the entire facility is on a redundant UPS system
  • Entire facility is connected to two diverse ComEd power grids


  • Approximately 500 tons of cooling capacity
  • Twelve 50 ton Liebert CRAHs (Computer Room Air Handlers) for N+2 unit redundancy
  • All HVAC units are dual-fed from A-side and B-side power sources with automatic failover

Building Management Systems

  • BMS system monitors all electrical and HVAC components and alarms
  • Grid of smoke/heat sensors in ceilings and below floors
  • Three-level alarm annunciation throughout complex
  • Fire suppression
  • Building has a carrier “meet me” telco room, with dozens of carriers' onsite. Easy and quick access to provisioning carrier voice and data services.
  • Building has break-rooms, cubicle work areas, a kitchen, even shower facilities should an extended stay be needed.

Security Cameras

  • Video surveillance and capture to DVR
  • 24-hour physical security monitors all cameras, door positions, and badge access areas
  • Cameras at each doorway and pan-tilt-zooms (PTZs) throughout the exterior of the facility

Access Controls

  • 24x7x365 onsite personnel
  • Card-reader access system
  • Biometric identity access system
  • Electronic verification by Windstream Hosted Solutions personnel
  • Individually secured cabinets

Have a question for George? Email us at . View Windstream's business site here.

Author: George Quinlan

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