7 Data Center Disasters You'll Never See Coming - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Cloud
News
6/7/2015
12:06 PM
Charles Babcock
Charles Babcock
Slideshows
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail

7 Data Center Disasters You'll Never See Coming

These are the kinds of random events that keep data center operators up at night. Is your disaster recovery plan prepared to handle these freak accidents?
4 of 9

Watch The Duct Work
A fire in an electrical vault at Fisher Plaza in Seattle on July 3, 2009, knocked out the Authorize.net payment portal, Microsoft's Bing Travel  service, the Geocaching.com service, the Dotster domain registrar service, and Web hosting provider AdHost, along with dozens of other sites. Power was restored the next morning.
The Puget Sound Business Journal reported that Geocaching and AdHost came back online as of 10 a.m., the next morning, while other services took longer to restore access. The fire, which apparently started in the burnt-out cabling duct (pictured above), was estimated to cost Fisher Communications $10 million in repairs and equipment replacement, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal.
(Image: Puget Sound Business Journal)

Watch The Duct Work

A fire in an electrical vault at Fisher Plaza in Seattle on July 3, 2009, knocked out the Authorize.net payment portal, Microsoft's Bing Travel service, the Geocaching.com service, the Dotster domain registrar service, and Web hosting provider AdHost, along with dozens of other sites. Power was restored the next morning.

The Puget Sound Business Journal reported that Geocaching and AdHost came back online as of 10 a.m., the next morning, while other services took longer to restore access. The fire, which apparently started in the burnt-out cabling duct (pictured above), was estimated to cost Fisher Communications $10 million in repairs and equipment replacement, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal.

(Image: Puget Sound Business Journal)

4 of 9
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
DanaRothrock
50%
50%
DanaRothrock,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/8/2015 | 4:00:20 AM
Data Center Disasters
I know of a couple data center meltdowns.

One was a lightning bolt that burned a one-inch hole in the side of the mainframe.


Another was Halon discharge in the computer room due to cigarette fire in trash can.  The Halon destroyed all the disk drives for mainframe systems.  Halon was then replaced by water sprinklers for big savings. 
Li Tan
50%
50%
Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
6/8/2015 | 10:56:52 AM
Re: Data Center Disasters
This kind of accident is rare but we need to be prepared for the possible occurrence. At least for the hosts in one cluster, they should not be located in the same building, or at least the same rack.
Dave Kramer
100%
0%
Dave Kramer,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/8/2015 | 4:58:07 PM
Re: Data Center Disasters
We were dealing with a large corporation that had it's own data center backup in the second World Trade Tower in New York. So when the 9/11 disaster struck it wiped out both data centres. 

Their new data centers six months later had their second and third backups in various other cities spread between far flung different States. Unfortunately it took such a drastic tragedy to make a new policy of not allowing a backup data center to even be within the same State - which is probably a wise move overall.

 
Charlie Babcock
50%
50%
Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
6/8/2015 | 12:48:52 PM
When the fire fighting system gets triggered by accident....
DanaRothlock, Yes, part of the problem of disaster preparedness is preventing the fire fighting system, especially when it's triggered by accident, from destroying what it's supposed to save. There's been no easy answer for years. Halon was meant to prevent water damage to the equipment. Sprinklers, on the other hand, prevent Halon damage. It's a fool's bargain with fate.
Charlie Babcock
50%
50%
Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
6/8/2015 | 9:07:39 PM
Move the backup site further away!
Dave Kramer, yes, it's a good idea to move the backup data center to a different site. But Hurricane Sandy told us just how far away that second site might have to be. Moving it across town or across the state might not have been enough in that case. With Sandy, disaster recovery specialist Sungard, had flood waters lapping at the edges of its parking lots on the high ground in N.J. The advent of disaster recovery based on virtual machines makes it more feasible to move recovery to a distant site (but still doesn't solve all problems).
Dave Kramer
50%
50%
Dave Kramer,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/9/2015 | 10:21:00 AM
Re: Move the backup site further away!
If I recall, the new data centers were New York (HQ), Houston, Seattle - but now realizing how hurricanes could still wipe out New York/Houston, at least Seattle might be safe from hurricanes but not Earth Quakes!?!  Maybe something central like Colorado or New Mexico where the environmental/natural diasters is less likely might be a safe bet! I'm located mid west, Saskatchewan Canada, and we've been hit with flooding in the last few years but in the lower lying parts of the Province.
kbartle803
50%
50%
kbartle803,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/10/2015 | 3:07:13 PM
Check your generators!
I was working at a datacenter in California that had power feeds from three different utilities, redundant battery backup, and a generator.  All three utilities went down when the same source all three were using failed.  We went to battery backup until the generator took over, it ran for about an hour until it overheated because the cooling system was rusted and clogged.  The utilities were still down, so we ran on batteries for another hour until we finally went dark.
batye
50%
50%
batye,
User Rank: Ninja
7/2/2015 | 12:33:42 AM
Re: Check your generators!
@kbartle803 interesting to know... thanks for sharing... in my books you could never be prepared 100%... 
Charlie Babcock
50%
50%
Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
6/11/2015 | 3:02:16 PM
Diesel fuel stored at NYC data centers reduced by 9/11
KBartle, what about this? One of the unreported aspects of the Hurricane Sandy disaster, when New York and many places along the East Coast went dark, was that every data center in the city had a limited supply of diesel fuel on premises. That was due to new regulations, I believe from a former mayor's office after 9/11, that the flamable liquids stored inside an office building must be reduced. In some cases, that made the investment in generators irrelevant. Public transit was down, city streets were clogged and fuel delivery trucks had great difficulty getting through. There goes the disaster recovery plan.
Charlie Babcock
50%
50%
Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
6/11/2015 | 3:15:00 PM
A narrow margin separates "chilled" from "too hot"
In no. 6, Outage by SUV, a commenter on Lew Moorman's blog post noted that a data center has about five minutes between the loss of its chillers and the start of equipment overheating. Does anyone know, is the margin really that narrow? I understand that computer equipment can operate at up to 100 degrees OK, but after that overheating starts to get dicey.
Commentary
Why 2021 May Turn Out to be a Great Year for Tech Startups
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author,  2/24/2021
News
How GIS Data Can Help Fix Vaccine Distribution
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  2/17/2021
Slideshows
11 Ways DevOps Is Evolving
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  2/18/2021
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
Download this report to compare how cloud usage and spending patterns have changed in 2020, and how respondents think they'll evolve over the next two years.
Video
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you.
Slideshows
Flash Poll