Feeds

THUNDERING GAS destroys disks during data centre incident

Keep eating the curries, sysadmins, but consider a new nozzle for gaseous emissions

High performance access to file storage

A few weeks ago in a Sydney data centre, something started making smoke. As its designers intended, the centre's reservoirs of inert gas started venting to stop any fire spreading.

The smoke was contained, but not long afterwards tenants started to complain that some of their disks had not survived the incident, which was odd. Reports of the incident The Reg encountered suggest that not much smoke was produced and that servers and other kit did not suffer. One tenant reported that SAS disks fared worse than newer SATA kit and drives in arrays did better than those in servers.

Vulture South asked around among disk and array vendors to learn if they are aware of anything that might have caused the problem. None could think of a single thing, which put paid to theories that perhaps the hypoxic gases used in data centres might be inimical to drives innards.

We also asked data centre construction specialists, one of whom – Emerson Network Power's Per Grandjean-Thomsen – recalled a 2012 Siemens white paper that suggested the noise made by rapidly-escaping hypoxic gas was the culprit. Extra noise, the paper suggests, means more vibration than some disks can handle. That white paper turns out to have a 2009 progenitor (PDF) explaining tests that are the source of the gas-release-noise-destroys-disks theory.

The noisy gas hypothesis stacks up with observations from Sydney. SAS disks are not hard to come by in lower volumes than their SATA cousins, which probably means less innovation. It's also to be expected that arrays tuned to handle dozens or hundreds of disks offer more vibration-damping features than servers.

The good news is that Siemens' research saw it create a gas-release nozzle that spreads inert gas inside a data centre without making such a racket. The data centre where this incident took place is one of Sydney's older such facilities, which could explain why it still uses noisy nozzles.

Has the data centre where your kit lives made that upgrade? Perhaps the time has come to make some noise about it. ®

Bootnote For another look at how vibration impacts disks, devote two minutes of your life to this classic vid "Shouting in the data centre", from back when Sun made its own hardware.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Seagate brings out 6TB HDD, did not need NO STEENKIN' SHINGLES
Or helium filling either, according to reports
European Court of Justice rips up Data Retention Directive
Rules 'interfering' measure to be 'invalid'
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Cisco reps flog Whiptail's Invicta arrays against EMC and Pure
Storage reseller report reveals who's selling what
Just what could be inside Dropbox's new 'Home For Life'?
Biz apps, messaging, photos, email, more storage – sorry, did you think there would be cake?
IT bods: How long does it take YOU to train up on new tech?
I'll leave my arrays to do the hard work, if you don't mind
Amazon reveals its Google-killing 'R3' server instances
A mega-memory instance that never forgets
USA opposes 'Schengen cloud' Eurocentric routing plan
All routes should transit America, apparently
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.