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In my cage I don't get good enough phone reception. A phone that goes over the network also doesn't seem ideal for when I am working on the network.

Do people have traditional phones delivered to their cages? I am wondering what my options are.

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6 Answers 6

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The quick ghetto option is what you mention above - have your datacenter run a POTS line to your rack & hang a $10 Radio Shack phone off it (if you've already got an emergency modem for serial console use you can just steal that line, which is what I usually do :-) The price for a POTS cross-connect varies a lot though, and it's usually an additional monthly charge...

My main colo actually has two customer phones available for local & limited long-distance (one in the DC & one outside in the reception area so you can actually hear people), and that seems to be getting more common so you can mention it to your provider - it may be something they'll consider.

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+1: Nothing wrong with a landline. It's called "redundancy" and it's what the colo is all about. If it's your line, you can slap an old modem on it for emergency access. –  Satanicpuppy May 7 '10 at 17:32
    
POTS lines do not rely on (local) power, which is an important consideration. –  toppledwagon Feb 4 '11 at 8:18
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As we're a blade-only shop (love them but they're very loud) we actually can't talk on any phone in any of our data centres - so we have a small office outside each where we have wired POTS phones and good mobile/cell reception. We also have a couple of DECT wireless phones connected to the POTS lines for the rare occasions we absolutely HAVE to try to speak in the data centres themselves.

Oh and we couldn't use VOIP as our networks are so locked down we'd never be able to get it working and it wouldn't stay working for long.

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+1 on the noise issue: I've never been able to have a useful conversation when any party involved is in a running datacenter. (This doesn't stop me from trying though) –  voretaq7 May 7 '10 at 17:37
    
If you can, invest in a wired binaural telephony headset with a noise-canceling microphone designed specifically for use in high-noise areas; they're not cheap, but the investment will pay for itself on that first call to tech support when you can actually hear, type, and communicate effectively in a crisis situation! If you have cell coverage, I've also had good luck combining an inexpensive Bluetooth device that has a standard headphone jack (e.g. Jabra BT320) and replacing its included earbuds with a pair of active noise canceling stereo headphones. –  jnaab May 29 '10 at 19:39
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No cellphone service at your colo? Hasn't happened to me in a while, so I rarely bother.

If you want an out-of-band phone (out of your network, at least), you could get a Ethernet cross-connect drop that uplinks directly to an ISP in your facility. This would bypass your whole network, and if you used a different ISP from the rest of your operations, you'd limit the common points of failure even more.

Once you have the drop, order some kind of single-line VOIP service from a commercial provider (is Vonage still around?), and you should get a free handset. You may want to throw a $50 Linksys router in front of it, too.

This might sound kind of "home-networky" to a professional, but it's reasonably reliable. And it's your backup, anyway--presumably, you'd also have a VOIP handset on your own network for non-fail situations, right?

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You mentioned "good enough" reception, implying you have some, it's just crappy. If you talk to the right cell carrier they may offer to install a cell booster near your datacenter and get you a decent signal. It's usually easier if your company has a number of phones from a particular provider to get a good rate.

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I have a fixed phone. Although I do have reception on my mobile (cellphone to some) I'm reluctant to make lengthy or overseas calls on it if that can be avoided. In my previous job I had a cordless phone that worked extremely well, as it had the advantages of both a fixed phone and a mobile. When I need two hands free I could either switch it to speaker phone or use the handsfree set. Given the choice I'd have one again.

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Data Center? Why no VOIP phone? ;) Plug it into network, it gets an IP (DHCP), hooks up with your known VOIP phone system, finished ;) I keep a couple of ports connected to my company VLAN ready in my cage for that and similar reasons ;)

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And what do you do when you are working on your border router which has failed and you want to call up tech support? –  Zoredache May 7 '10 at 16:17
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Like Kyle noted, VOIP doesn't help you if you're in the datacenter troubleshooting a connectivity problem (say a firewall that actually caught fire). Plus what if you're working on the phone server? It can't manage calls while it's rebooting :-) –  voretaq7 May 7 '10 at 16:18
    
If you're in a colocation facility, you can get a separate Ethernet drop for the VOIP phone, uplinked directly to an ISP. Come on, guys, be creative. –  Ryan B. Lynch May 7 '10 at 16:20
    
@Ryan not all colo facilities host multiple "end-user" providers. At the facility I'm in you have 2 choices: IP space from the colo's netblock or hook up with a backbone provider in the meet-me room & buy transit for your own networks (the former is the case above, the latter unreasonable for a single phone :-) –  voretaq7 May 7 '10 at 16:32
    
And if you're going to do that, Ryan, why not just have a standard phoneline? VOIP is all well and good in some areas but sometimes technology just makes a solution more complex and costly, not better. –  RobM May 7 '10 at 17:31
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