Extreme weather, #datacenter DC power, and #cloudcomputing.


Or, as the alternate title that comes to mind, “Mother Nature throws a hissy fit”. I’m going to talk in this post about how all of the above link together to affect data center and cloud computing reliability.

This year, it seem like the news is full of stories of violent weather around the country and it only seems to be getting worse. Even areas that traditionally have been fairly stable weather wise have been showing massive storms with damaging winds and flooding rains. For the first time in the 6 years I’ve been in this location (not to mention most of my life in this state), we’ve had 2 major spring/early summer storms with winds in excess of hurricane force.

So, how does this relate to data center and cloud computing reliability? The last storm materialized in only 5 minutes, produced torrential downpours and 100 mph winds, and caused large amounts of havoc with the commercial AC power supply to the data center. I’m a great proponent of green DC power in the data center so the power distribution is primarily DC with AC equipped with good quality traditional protection for the rest.

Unfortunately, the AC power excursion events from the severe weather were wild enough that the classic power protection turned out to be inadequate. The cloud computing servers themselves, powered by DC as they are, survived just fine. Both the primary and backup storage systems, powered from the AC, did not.

After several days of cleaning up the mess and getting the cloud restored and back on line, there are a number of takeaways from this.

1. It’s hard to go overboard engineering your data center for extreme weather, whether it’s likely to happen or not.

2. Data center DC power is a LOT more resilient than the best protected AC power. As a result of this, all required AC powered equipment is now on the DC power via inverters. This isn’t as green of course, but it isolates the equipment much better from radical power fluctuations in the data center AC supply.

3. In a cloud computing environment, make sure all the parts of the cloud have the same level of resiliency. There’s no point to keeping the front end alive when the back end goes down.

Finally, I’ve talked in a previous post about using DC power with a long run battery string to shift heat load in the data center. A DC power system with a long run time is also great protection against this type of event. No matter how fast or unexpected the severe weather is, simply shut down the rectifiers in minutes, run from the batteries, and you have the ultimate in isolation from AC power excursions.

Or, we could just write Mother Nature a prescription for Prozac.

Email or call me or visit the SwiftWater Telecom web site for cloud computing services.

Vern

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