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Sitting in the dark

by Hu Yoshida on Jul 26, 2006

I spent the after noon sitting in a dark room with all the shades and shutters drawn, trying to preserve what ever cool was left after the electricity went out ending my air conditioned life. In Morgan Hill the temperature was 114 degrees Fahrenheit. Overloaded transformers blew out and much of the town has been out of electricity. Fortunately I still had some battery life left in my PC.

We all have been anticipating the increases in electricity rates following the increase in fuel costs. Reserves have been set aside in the budgets, and we have been bracing for double digit rate increases. I don’t think we anticipated the inability of the power infrastructure to cope with extreme environmental changes like 10 days of 100 degree temperatures. The biggest drain on power in a data center is the air conditioning system. Getting the right level of temperature, humidity and airflow to the right place in a machine room to maintain a class 1 environment. Luckily I have not heard of any problems with data centers in this area due to this heat wave.  Aside from transformer failures, the grid seemed to remain intact and power was distributed where it needed to be in California.  Many businesses in California have DR sites in the other end of the state or in Central California. If the grid failed I am not sure that these DR site would have done any good.

This was another wakeup call for out of region disaster recovery. The environment is changing, extremes of weather can affect a wide geographical area. The southern United States is bracing for another hurricane season. The long hot summer still has a month or more to go. Will this winter bring the return of floods in Europe or China or India? 

"Out of Region" is a term that was used by the SEC/OCC/Federal Reserve in their Interagency Paper on Sound Practices to Strengthen the Resilience of the US Financial System that was issued over two years ago. "Core financial services must maintain sufficient geographically dispersed resources to meet recovery and resumption objectives." While this applies to core financial services, its not a bad objective for companies that want to be prepared to survive wide scale disasters.

In order to cool off, my wife and I are going to see a movie in an air conditioned theater. I’ve been wanting to see "An Inconvenient Truth" with Al Gore.

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Comments (2 )

Jeremiah Owyang on 28 Jul 2006 at 5:06 pm

I’m beginning to wonder with all the heat waves what’s causing this change –yes this could certainly be an impact to data centers.

Did I ever tell you that I worked at Exodus Communications, and then at Cable and Wireless? I’m quite familiar with the onsite UPS power, most was diesel powered for backup.

There was some concern with energy blackouts –and strategies had to be deployed to make sure that wouldn’t happen. I remember some data centers were strategically located near hospitals so they’d have a better chance of staying up on a grid during a brownout.

And yes, of course, I worked on web stuff, Intranet, and Customer Extranet –anyone out there ever used MyExodus? I spent a lot of time on that.

Jeremiah Owyang on 28 Jul 2006 at 5:08 pm

Oh, and this weekend should be a lot cooler in the bay area –I noticed some folks stayed late at HDS as it was cooler in HQ!

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