The green data center, avoiding natural (and unnatural) disasters. #datacenter

I’ve just been reading the back and forth over the recent volcanic eruption in Iceland and it’s impact on data centers versus the ” natural disasters happen everywhere” folks. Yes natural disaster happen but it doesn’t mean you have to invite them into your data center.

First, let’s consider DCK’s question about the effect of volcanic ash on the data center. Volcanic ash is incredibly abrasive (which is why you don’t want to fly an airplane through it), it’s electrically conductive, and it contains sulfur dioxide, which form sulfuric acid in the presence of water. Not the kind of thing you’d want in any mechanical equipment (fans on air handlers, etc), not the kind of thing you’d want in any electrical or electronic equipment (shorts galore), not the kind of thing you’d want in any delicate equipment (corrosion city).

It’s certainly true that you could avoid this to some extent by building a data center upwind of potential volcanic activity. The problem is, “upwind” isn’t fixed in stone and volcanic ash can travel a long way.

It’s also true that there are natural disasters everywhere. It’s also true that all natural disasters are not alike. A blizzard has the potential to interrupt data center operations. Planting a data center on the Gulf coast or mid Atlantic East coast puts it dead center for a major hurricane that could very possibly flatten it. Park your data center on top of a high active seismic or volcanic area and you’re at risk for a “smoking hole” disaster. Locate on top of the Yellowstone super volcano or in a place like Naples Italy (within the kill zone of Mt Vesuvius) and the most probable natural disaster suddenly rises to “not survivable, period”.

Freak natural disasters can come out of the blue. This year we had an interruption at our primary data center due to an unusual spring storm packing hurricane force winds. We simply migrated services to our backup data center (120 miles away) and, once power was restored, restarted the facility, no damage at all.

The economic lure of things like data center free air cooling in Iceland, but the bull’s eye target is like a rattlesnake’s rattle. Heed the warning and don’t roll the dice with your data center.

Don’t wear a target, email or call me or visit the SwiftWater Telecom web site for truly green data center services!


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