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Posted by Anna Nicholls on 04-Aug-2021 13:33:51

If the lights go out, what happens?

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If the lights go out in a data centre, it’s game over. If a data centre goes down, hundreds if not thousands of customers lose access to their data, websites and applications. Data centres can’t let it happen. However power outages of course, do happen, and they can happen for different reasons. It could be a National Grid outage, a fire, or a flood. So data centres need to have a range of systems and protocols in place to make sure that the lights stay on - all the time.

Backup power in the form of UPS systems (Uninterruptible Power Supply) will provide short-term emergency power in the event of a failure. For many data centres, this backup source will be used while the issue is resolved. However some facilities go further with their contingencies. At Teledata we invested in three diesel power generators which offer multi megawatt power generation capacity to support the data centre’s infrastructure against mains power outages. Should mains power fail, the generators and existing battery backup systems will be called upon to seamlessly protect all customer power, with enough fuel on-site to sustain protection for an extended period of time. Advanced, automated synchronisation between the generators balances the electrical load and reacts fast in the event of failure of any of the individual engines – transferring power to the other engines without risk of power loss.

We also have a 2 MegaWatt smart energy battery storage system which allows us to draw and store power from the National Grid. We can use this stored energy as a power source in the event of any interruption to the main National Grid feed. This type of power backup also brings huge environmental benefits. Voltage optimisation allows us to regulate voltage at 225v at the transformer level, reducing energy wastage and extending the lifespan of equipment. Eliminating spikes in power delivery also reduces the likelihood of under or over voltage 'tripping', meaning more reliability and less outages.

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Although a National Grid outage may be outside of a data centres control, there are some things that providers can control, and that’s ensuring that the risk of fire or flood is minimised. Data centres house a serious amount of power and equipment, which of course poses a fire risk. So fire detection and suppression systems are critical. VESDA (Very Early Smoke Detection Apparatus) and gas (Argonite or FM200) suppression mean that the chances of a fire actually happening are incredibly slim. These early detection systems work to avoid a fire taking hold, which means there’s less chance of the power cutting out and more chance of the lights staying on. Flood sensors on data centre equipment work in the same way, alerting teams to moisture so that any potential incident can be investigated and resolved before an outage occurs. 

To read more about the resilience and contingency steps we’ve taken at our Manchester data centre facility, take a look here. https://www.teledata.co.uk/datacentre

Topics: redundancy, colocation, resilience, manchester, power, ups

Anna Nicholls

Written by Anna Nicholls

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