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The Rains of Summer

by Hu Yoshida on Jul 28, 2007

When I landed at Heathrow it was raining. It has been raining for most of June and now July. I checked in to the Christopher Wren hotel in Windsor which backs up to the River Thames and I could see the river was already swollen. That evening the TV news was all about the flooding in southern England which was caused by the many rivers which drain from the North. It showed people wading through their living rooms and queuing up for bottles of drinking water. At the same time it showed the 40 C heat wave in central Europe and the forest fires and smoke that were raging across the continent and could be seen on satellite images of the earth.

I was in the UK to talk to several key customers about storage virtualization and meet some other divisions of Hitachi to review what we could do as Hitachi limited to reduce carbon footprints. Green policies have entered the political mainstream in Europe and regulatory and public pressures are accelerating due to recent climate changes that were sadly evident in the news of the day.

While I represent Hitachi Data Systems and am focused on data center issues around storage, other divisions of Hitachi focus their technology on power plants and batteries, construction machinery, consumer appliances, air conditioning, automotive, and rail. Everyone knows about the success of the hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Prius and Lexus 400H, but few people know that Hitachi technology is in the electric motor. Hitachi has also developed a hybrid train that can cut fuel bills by 20% and harmful emissions by half. It can also cut noise pollution by running on batteries when it rolls in and out of the metro area stations.

This meeting was eye opening for me since I was not aware of all the other issues that could be addressed outside of storage and Green IT. What was common across all the Hitachi Divisions there was the desire to increase the efficiencies that can be brought about by technology and promotion of a culture of social responsibility.

I did a briefing for a customer with Bob Plumridge, who works for HDS in the UK. Bob was his usual self, very professional and knowledgeable. It was only afterwards when we were taking a tea break, and I was going on about global warming and the flooding that I saw on TV that I happened to ask him how he was doing. In a manner that I can only describe as “British” he allowed that he had about a foot of water in his house, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the others in his village. “He would have a bit of cleaning up to do”

I went into London, later that day, to meet with a customer who was considering storage virtualization. However, the main concern on his mind was what we had to offer on three data center disaster recovery. He already had a two data center DR with synchronous replication between the two data centers. However, recent events made him aware that both data centers were now located on the same flood plain, or rather the new flood plain which seems to be the southern part of England.

Why three data centers? Because to have one data center outside this flood plain, he would have to go to asynchronous distances like Northern England, and in order to have no data loss he would have to have at least two of the three data centers in synchronous distances in the event that the asynchronous site should have a failure. Also if one data center is taken out by a wide spread disaster like a flood, he could be exposed for some time while the data center is rebuilt or the surrounding infrastructure is rebuilt. In the pictures I saw of this flood there was a power station that also was under water which meant that a data center that depended on that power station would also be affected even if they were not directly flooded. .

All of a sudden we have to plan for things we never had to consider before. They also told me about the locks on the River Thames which were put in place to keep out the tides from the rising sea level. They hadn’t though about the Thames overflowing from the other side due to the rains of summer.

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Comments (1)

Christina on 28 Nov 2007 at 9:44 pm


\”…A sudden bump can sometimes be enough to damage and result in loss of data…\”…

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