A robust and continuously available power supply for your IT systems and services is one of the most important reasons for placing your trust in a data centre. Why then do so many fail in delivering on this obvious mission critical requirement?
While Grid interruptions will occur from time to time, they shouldn’t be allowed to escalate into noticeable service interruptions. More typically, outages are caused by a loss of power in the power distribution network. This could be triggered by a range of factors, from construction workers accidently cutting through cables – very common in metro areas – to power equipment failure, adverse weather conditions, or human error.
Finding the ideal data centre location that ticks all the right boxes when it comes to keeping the power on can be easier said than done.
Five things you should know:
Avoid flood plain locations and check how the power routes between your prospective colo data centre - or your cloud provider’s - and the electricity distribution network. In some cases it’s pretty messy! NGD is directly connected to the National Grid via a nearby sub-station and has direct control over its diverse power feeds into the building.
Ensure there’s N+1 redundancy at a minimum. The ‘N’ stands for the number of components necessary to run your system and the ‘+1’ means there is additional capacity should a single component fail. A few data centres go further. NGD has more than double the equipment needed to supply contracted power to customers, split into two power trains on either side of the building each of which is N+1. Both are completely separated with no common points of failure. So ideally 2N+x redundancy of critical systems to support separacy, testing, and concurrent access.
Ensure your data centre’s critical infrastructure is subjected to rigorous testing Not all do this regularly. Some will have procedures to test their installations but rely on simulating total loss of incoming power. But this isn’t completely fool proof as the generators remain on standby and the equipment in front of the UPS systems stays on – so the cooling system and the lighting remain functioning during testing.
Absolute proof comes with "Black Testing". Many data centres simply don’t do it. Every six months NGD isolates incoming mains grid power and for up to sixteen seconds the UPS takes the full load while the emergency backup generators kick-in. We do this under strictly controlled conditions.
Prevention is better than cure - inbuilt resilience won’t solve all potential power supply problems. This calls for high quality training for engineering staff, predictive diagnostics, watertight support contracts and sufficient on-site spares. Streamlining MTTF will deliver significant returns on backup systems availability and reliability, and overall facilities uptime performance.
Hoping for the best in the event of actual loss of mains power simply isn’t an option.
To find out more about NGD’s critical infrastructure testing procedures please contact us.