What happens to your data centre in a blackout?
We’ve all felt the pinch of rising fuel prices at home, as have many businesses. You probably have a vague awareness of the reasons behind these price rises, with political and economic instability around the world. Yet however bad things might feel, the worst may yet be to come – and businesses would be well advised to plan for this eventuality.
The worst case scenario from the UK government is the imposition of winter blackouts during cold days, when additional energy is required to heat homes. With global instability continuing and extreme temperatures becoming more common, this could happen next winter if not this one – something that will have a knock-on effect on data centres.
Winter blackouts and businesses
Nobody can be certain about the current situation regarding electricity and gas supplies. What is clear is that the war in Ukraine and tensions with Russia have upended the previous status quo. While Germany has been struck hardest, many European countries have suffered as a result of the gas pipelines from Russia being attacked or shut down, disrupting supplies for days and weeks at a time.
While this has caused an influx of investment in national energy security – namely in wind, solar and nuclear power – these efforts will not pay off for some years to come. In the intervening period, individuals and businesses are being left in the lurch by both price rises and the prospect of disruption. Most worrying is the idea of winter blackouts raised by the UK government, where energy would be shut off between 4pm-7pm on very cold days in the event of an energy shortage.
This poses an obvious risk to data centres, and thus to the availability and integrity of your data. While data doesn’t just vanish when a server turns off, it could be corrupted if they are shut down without warning. More than this, though, your website and other resources might be unavailable for the duration of the blackout. This is a problem not just for domestic customers and clients (who could still browse using their phones), but also for anyone in a region that doesn’t have a blackout.
How data centres are addressing winter blackouts
Despite the government playing down the likelihood of blackouts, they are an obvious risk. The instability and breakdown in relationships that have caused these issues are not likely to be resolved anytime soon, nor are the shortfalls in national energy production, or the demand for it. Your data centre provider should be taking this seriously, and be monitoring the situation closely. Should an official notification of a period of blackouts be released, you should expect your provider to communicate mitigation plans to customers accordingly.
One option for businesses would be to choose a data centre location that is less likely to be affected by blackouts. However, this may be harder than you think. Many countries are affected by the same global issues, and many data centres are in cold countries due to the benefits of natural cooling, often those in northern Europe. Moreover, having your data centres closer to your customers is beneficial for how quickly you can serve resources. Faster websites and online resources rank better in Google, and retain more users by avoiding the frustration of load times.
That said, business continuity is at the very core of what a data centre does. Facilities are built with resilience in mind, and solid processes and systems should already be in place to mitigate disruption. While not all data centres will be able to accommodate a three hour outage, many will, and many more will be building greater resilience in light of these issues. If you don’t already know what your data centre has in place, contact them for reassurance.
How Sota avoids data centre disruption
Here at Sota, our protection from power outages is provided by two diesel generators specified for data centre power. The Sota 810 data centre is a high-specification hosting and colocation facility securely located in Kent Science Park, 40 miles from London. It is constructed as a sealed, fire-safe pod, which is housed within a modern technology unit, with a purpose-built data hall optimised for cooling system air flows.
Standard features include redundant dual path power distribution and switching, resilient uninterruptible power supplies, dual auxiliary power generators, redundant air handling and conditioning systems, high-efficiency hot aisle containment, very early smoke detection apparatus, and automatic gas fire suppression. An external plant area accommodates energy-efficient dry-air coolers and two auxiliary diesel generators. Security is provided by razor-wire perimeter fencing, a 24/7 security detail, and extensive video surveillance.
In case of data loss or other damage due to blackouts, Sota can also provide business continuity services with our standby premises at Kent Science Park, allowing you to relocate up to 100 employees at short notice. Click to learn more about our Cloud Computing and Cyber Resilience services, or get in touch with us today to find out how we can help your business.