Extreme weather and the data center.

I’ve been sitting here this evening operating the data center under extreme weather protocols due to wild electrical storms and tornado warnings. I thought I’d take a few minutes and discuss how to protect a data center during extreme weather events.

Whether you subscribe to the idea of global warming or not, it’s apparent that this has already been a bumper year for violent weather. High winds, lightning, heavy rain, none of it is very conducive to keeping the data center up and operating. Obviously, being able to shut down is the best protection (this is where cloud computing really shines, the capability of moving services out of harm’s way), but what do you do when you can’t just shut it all down?

Here’s my weather protocol for tonight:

1. Identify critical services and the capacity needed to minimally run them. In this case, I was able to substantially reduce data center power load by shutting down redundant services and shutting down cloud computing capacity that wasn’t required to keep the critical services operating. Remember, reduced power load means extended run time on the backup power.

2. Transfer workloads to an alternate data center.

3. Reduce cooling capacity to reflect the lower data center power load (less load, more run time!). Insure that there is no water or wind infiltration via cooling system intake vents. In my case, I change the free air cooling system to passive intake to avoid blowing in water.

4. Secure all windows and doors against high winds. If an area can’t be reasonably secured, such as an area with large, vulnerable, plate glass windows, secure inner doors to isolate the vulnerable area.

5. Reduce power equipment capacity equivalent to power load reduction. Open breakers or unjack equipment to isolate it from any damage from extreme power events, such as a close lightning hit on the AC commercial power.

6. Make sure that emergency supplies and emergency lighting are all up to par.

7. Know what to grab and take and how to secure the data center in case the situation is bad enough to require abandoning the data center.

My previous post on dealing with a data center flood also applies to this as well.

Follow these protocols or use them as a starting point for your own and you’ll find that your data center can make it through almost anything Mother Nature can throw at you intact.

Email or call me or visit the SwiftWater Telecom web site for green data center services today.


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