Thursday, December 13, 2007

"IT manager at the South Pole". What ?????

Yeah, this was the first thing that crossed my mind, when I read the interview of an IT Manager, live from the South Pole.

Few snippets from the interview:

What technical challenges do you face?

Our biggest challenge is bandwidth. We only have it only 12 hours a day at anywhere from T-1 (1.54 Mbit/sec) to 3 Mbit/sec speeds. We also have a transponder that we can use to send 60 Mbit/sec unidirectional from the pole to the real world. We use that to upload scientific data. Our record was 94Gbytes out in one day.

We have three different satellites we use to provide our Internet. All of those are pretty ancient. We have a weather satellite, an old maritime communications satellite and an old NASA satellite, the first one that was launched back in 1981. The others were launched in 1976 or 1977.

Basically we're scavenging whatever we can find and we can only see each satellite for 3 to 4 hours a day. Other than that we're almost a typical network. We use Cisco gear, we've got land lines to all of the bedrooms, we've got fiber optic distributed throughout the building so if fiber to the desktop ever becomes a reality the building is prewired for that. So we are trying to be as future proof as possible.

And this:

In many data centers in the U.S. heat density is becoming a problem. Surely that's not an issue for you?

You would think that at the South Pole cooling wouldn't be a problem but with the amount of heat we generate [in the data center] getting rid of it actually can be quite an issue. We try to pipe some that heat to other parts of the building to recover it. The data center in the old station just had a hole cut in the wall with a fan [to the outside] to cool the systems. Sometimes you'd be sitting there in a parka trying to get something done.

And this seems to be in need of a little bit of censor, but anyhow:

What's the most outrageous experience you had?

We have this tradition called the 300 Club. When the temperature drops below -100 we hike the sauna up to 200 degrees and stay in there as long as we can stand it. Then we run outside, naked, around the geographic pole and back inside so we get that total 300-degree change in temperature. That happens every year and it's absolutely amazing. Just the feel of that cold on your skin is like nothing else. People always wonder if you can feel the difference between 60 below and 100 below and the answer is absolutely.

Seems like a job?

[via Slashdot ]


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