To verify identity, employees run their badges through a card reader and their hands across a palm reader. Even then, they can't get access to customer equipment. Only the guard and the customers have keys to customers' cabinets. And when customers come to the data center, they must tell the guard their passwords to gain access.
In the data center, Kuo pulls out what looks like a football-shaped key ring with a digital face. It's actually a random-key generator that changes and coordinates another set of passwords for the network architecture. Without the updated number, no one has access. The point is to ensure that only a limited number of people can touch or alter anything, especially the core routers that connect NaviSite to the Internet.
The routers, Cisco 6509s, sit in a locked chamber called the main equipment room. The room, like everything else in the data center, exists in duplicate. On the other side of the building, there's another room that contains the exact same setup. The main equipment room is where NaviSite routes Internet traffic.
The fiber-optic cables that connect the data center to the Internet enter at four different locations. It's a hedge against the risk of "backhoe failure" -- the possibility that someone might accidentally cut through the fibers while digging up a sewage pipe.
The on-ramp to the Internet is the most compelling reason most customers use an ASP's data center. NaviSite buys backbone Internet access from the major providers: AT&T Corp., Sprint Corp., Cable and Wireless PLC and GTE Internetworking. It's called a private-transit strategy: By paying for backbone access, NaviSite avoids the free but crowded public-access ramps to the Internet.
Between the two equipment rooms are still more black boxes, which back up the information going through the center. Each box contains 500 tapes, and each tape has 70GB of storage space.
Backup may seem mundane, but a storage problem recently brought down ASP Bigstep.com for two days. The San Francisco-based firm had to shut down service while it isolated a problem with its backup devices, and it didn't have a second set of backup equipment that could take over while it fixed the first.
Kuo explains that he could remove any one piece of equipment from the NaviSite equation and the system would continue to function. "If I pulled out a switch, nothing would happen to the operations. The system would reroute traffic," Kuo says. "Each piece of equipment in our system is backed up more than once."
Redundancy -- even backup plans for backup failures -- defines NaviSite's data center, according to Rosen and Kuo.