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The New York Times: Bits

October 31, 2012 View Original Article

Fuel for a Data Center, Carried Up 17 Floors


An article in Wednesday’s New York Times described the difficulties an Internet provider, Peer 1 Hosting, had in maintaining its servers in downtown Manhattan.

The power is out there, because of Hurricane Sandy, and one backup generator was flooded. The other is on the building’s 19th floor. Even though Peer 1 got a truck of diesel fuel downtown, it had no easy way of getting fuel to the generator.

This morning I received an e-mail from Meredith Eaton, a company spokeswoman, with this description of what happened next:

PEER 1 employees volunteered to manually carry buckets of fuel from the truck up 17 flights of stairs to the fuel drum at the top. The generator’s consumption rate is about 40 gallons/hour and these are 55 gallon drums that they’re filling half way up (since that’s as heavy as they can handle), so they have to do more than one an hour just to stay afloat.

PEER 1 has a team of 5 people based in NYC, but with the help of friends, partners and customers (like the CEO of Squarespace) who chipped in after seeing what PEER 1 was doing to keep things up and running, they amassed a team of about 35 people, including Mike Mazzei, the head manager in NYC. As a result of this effort, PEER 1 is the only tenant at 75 Broad Street in New York that has stayed up and running throughout the past few days during Hurricane Sandy (and to the best of our knowledge, this is still the case).

It is not possible at present to verify if Peer 1 is indeed the only company running. Still, remember them: The next pixel you click might be because of a 17-floor marathon.