Level 3 wilts in London sunshine (again)
Last.fm downed by mildwave
A major central London data centre owned by Level 3 overheated in Sunday's sunshine, taking down major websites including the popular music service Last.fm.
Temperatures at the facility in Braham Street in the City topped 50°C at 7pm, after one of five chillers failed in the afternoon heat. According to data recorded at City Airport, the outside temperature peaked yesterday at about 23°C.
The other chillers were uable to bear the extra strain and the temperature rose uncontrollably. Servers shut down to cool and were gradually brought back online after about four hours.
Level 3 said today that engineers were still working to repair the faulty chiller, but added that the other four were now able to maintain a working temperature. It said it had informed customers of the problems.
The Braham Street data centre has a history of high profile outages. It also overheated in 2006, although that was during July, the hottest month, rather than at the beginning of summer. It has also been the repeated target of burglars.
The shutdown left Last.fm users unable to access their accounts, upload playlist data to their profiles or listen to streamed music. Days earlier the site's administrators had bragged how one of their servers had not suffered any downtime for more than three years. ®
Next to the article is an advert for microsofts sql server - with a picture of what looks like a supernova, and the caption "Get ready for the data explosion"..... awesome! :)
Opening windows made me laugh - a fair few years back, I worked for a large financial services company - during the one summer i was there, the A/C broke down in the server room. No back up cooling (!!!), and it was reasonably warm outside (25C). The solution was to open all doors from the front desk through to the server room (security swipe doors included....), and open the top windows (onto the road) in the server room.
When this failed to bring the ambient temps below 50C, someone had a bright idea of putting an oscillator fan into the room to try and cool things down. My comments on the Laws of Thermodynamics, and the reason why fans work for sweaty humans and not for servers kinda got ignored - though eventually, someone had the bright idea of shutting everything down to save the hardware from going up in flames...
The assumption that cooling underground means you're still dependent on outside air is still just an assumption. Here's some facts...
"The coolant will be ground water and the site's temperature is a constant 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit) all year, meaning no air-conditioning will be needed outside the containers. This reduces the energy required for the water chillers, used with surface-level Blackbox containers."
Note in particular, not just the water cooling but the relevant fact that a static temperature of 15 degrees in a very large open space reduces the need for cooling anyway.
Above ground buildings are not only struggling with cooling because of the outside air, but because the buildings act like greenhouses. By locating underground, even if your cooling plant was above ground, your building is not being heated like a greenhouse. Of course there's a downside in that the temperature will not drop off in the night, but at least it's consistent.
It's a fact that places like disused mines (especially salt mines which have vast caverns), and disused bunkers, are being used by datacenter companies. Maybe they're stupid, but I suspect they've worked out the sense of it.
Though in part they're doing it to sell on security as well. Being underground is supposedly more "secure", but of course that wire sticking out of the ground is an open invitation to Mr Hacker ;)