Building Integrated Timing System (was Re: NTP question)

Sean Donelan sean at
Thu May 2 17:05:32 UTC 2019

On Thu, 2 May 2019, Carsten Bormann wrote:
> Why don’t data centers provide a GPS signal along with power and air conditioning?
> Installing a distribution amplifier for 1.5 GHz is not rocket science.
> (Or an Ethernet with IEEE1588 precise time, but that is probably asking too much.)

They should :-)

I tried to include time (i.e. Buiding Integrated Timing System) as part of 
the basic data center services (hvac, power, access control, etc) when I 
worked at Equinix many, many years ago. Your data center operator can 
install its GPS (or other time source) antennas, drive the building master 
clock, and distribute time to customers using several different protocols.

For folks with firewall/security concerns, the building master clock can 
drive non-Internet protocols (IRIG-B, IEE1588 PTP, etc) or connections in 
addition to NTP.  You can still have your own NTP server. The difference 
is instead of a GPS antenna connection, your clock box uses the BITS
connection as one of the time sources.

Unfortunately, I was ahead of my time and customers (and sales people) 
didn't really understand the advantages. Yes, the DC operator can screw up 
the BITS just like the DC operator can screw up the power, hvac and access 
control systems.  Everyone wanted a separate GPS antenna, and the sales 
people made more commission selling space on the antenna platform :-(

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