One of the most complex problems you may face when owning or running a data centre is an electricity outage. There are a few things that can become very complicated when there is a power outage. Here we tell you exactly what to do and how to cope with it, read on to find out more.
What causes an electricity outage?
A variety of reasons can cause an electricity or power outage, one of the main reasons you may experience is the weather. If your data centre is located in an area where you whiteness adverse weather such as high winds, significant rainfall or even large amounts of lightning. Lightning strikes can dramatically effect electrical equipment causing them to lose power; lightning can also cause trees to fall on power lines. High winds can cause circuit shortages and other security, or electrical equipment can power out. Flooding can have a dramatic effect on electrical equipment both above the ground and below the ground. There can also be other causes of power outages such as construction work, car accidents and planned outages.
Unplanned power outage
An unplanned power outage can have a significant effect on the business, especially to their data centre. Not only can it affect the electrics, cabling and networks but it can also have a long-term effect on revenue, customers and brand loyalty.
What can you do to prevent an outage?
Many causes of power outages can be prevented using the following methods:
UPS System Failure
You should regularly monitor the UPS batteries within your data centre to ensure they are giving the right output and are inclined to work in a power outage. If you would like to know more about battery powered cooling systems we recommend taking a read of Riello UPS blog post on Should I use a battery cooling system in the data centre?.
Security is another aspect of unplanned outages that can occur, while it may be unlikely to happen to you there are things you need to put in place when an outage occurs. Security needs to be addressed on every level of the data centre. Regular systems audits should be carried out to ensure your data centre is resistant to attacks. You should also ensure data centre CCTV systems are in place around the clock on site and can still work when an outage occurs, this will enable you to see exactly who comes in and out of the data centre during this period.
Access controls are another thing to think about during a power outage. No one should be allowed out or in during those time period; unfortunately, while it may seem like a pain, you have no idea who is entering the building. By having reduced security in and around the data centre, anyone could enter the building and steal data.
Encryption of data is another critical thing to think about during a power outage. The loss of data or information can have a detrimental effect on the business. It’s even more important than ever with new GDPR laws in place, the loss of personal data can have your business fined millions which may result in closure or liquidation.
According to 365 Data Centers around 22% of unplanned outages are due to human error or were done accidentally. Unfortunately, while you may think there are a number of things you can do here to prevent it, there are only a few simple steps you need to follow.
Ensure all personnel working in the vicinity of the data centre are well trained and know exactly how to prevent an outage. Conduct regular and comprehensive training plans for all data centre employees quarterly.
If you are making any changes internally to the data centre make sure you have back-ups if anything is to go wrong. If you are unsure and believe you need a professional to come in to monitor or manage the data centre than do it. We often hear of data centre managers not doing so due to cost, but this is a cost you should invest in.
Something you need to think about when running a data centre is the cooling of systems. When electrical equipment is continuously running, it can overheat and in some cases cause a power outage. Overheating electrical equipment can also pose another risk to the data centre, fires can easily break out, so cabinets need to be maintained. One of the best ways to reduce the risk or prevent this from happening is having a professional network engineer attend site to install data cabinet solutions with cooling systems. With regular cooling your cabling, electrical equipment and servers are less likely to overheat.
Natural disasters are one of those things you cannot judge when will happen. However, there are precautionary measures you can put in place to minimise the overall impact to the data centre. Ensure your data centre has a disaster recovery plan in place and all generators are ready to go if there is a power outage. Generators should be regularly tested and refuelled if needs be.
If you want an example of how Amazon prevented a data centre outage we recommend giving Data Centre Knowledge a read. Some of the solutions we have mentioned may seem a little expensive and potentially excessive, but you have to think about the safety of the information and equipment inside the data centre.
By having a plan in place to prevent or even when an outage occurs your data centre is less likely to suffer from the effects of no power. While you may not be able to predict when a natural hazard is going to occur there are precautionary measures you can put in place to help your data centre stay powered. Regular maintenance and upkeep of generators is paramount; each should be tested every week to ensure in an instance of a power outage the data centre is still able to run effectively.