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Top 5 Data Center Outages of 2014

With continual improvement in technology, internal processes and industry best practices, data center outages have occurred less frequently.  However, they still happen on occasion.  Power goes out, a backup system fails, security is breached, a technician makes a mistake or something completely unexpected causes unplanned downtime.

During 2014, several data centers operated by enterprises, service providers and government agencies experienced outages.  Some of the most noteworthy events of this year include:

  1. State of Iowa Data Center Fire — February 18, 2014

The state of Iowa experienced an electrical fire in its primary data center.  Fortunately, the chief operations officer for information technology quickly assessed the damage and determined the best options for bringing the data center back online.  Given the seriousness of the event, the duration of the outage lasted only 16 hours.

At the time the data center lost power, evacuation alarms sounded.  As the staff assembled in designated areas and attendance was taken, employees reported fire, smoke and noise.

Approximately two hours after the initial evacuation, the fire department allowed top IT personnel into the data center to investigate the source and assess the damage.  The team attributed the fire to a failure in a wall-mounted electrical suppression unit.

After this assessment, the primary focus became restoring power and bypassing the failure point.  In addition, the team had to vent the data center to remove the smoke and odor.

  1. Samsung Data Center Fire — April 20, 2014

In another major fire event, Samsung’s data center in Gwacheon, South Korea experienced an outage affecting global users of its devices.  The Samsung website was down resulting in lost service for smart TV, phone and tablet users.  The outage lasted for several hours.

Images of the four-story building depict a full-blown fire.  Fortunately, nobody was seriously injured and everyone evacuated the data center successfully.  Although the building’s façade fell apart from fire damage, only one staff member suffered minor cuts and scratches from the falling debris.

Preliminary assessments indicated a smoke pipe issue outside the building may have been the source of the fire.  However, Samsung reported it was conducting a full investigation into the cause.

  1. Three Unrelated New York City Outages for Internap Data Centers — May 16-22, 2014

Cloud hosting service provider Internap experienced three outages at its New York City data centers. Electrical equipment failure, specifically component failures in uninterruptible power supply systems, caused the downtime in each incident.  Although the outages happened within one week of each other and in the same geographic location, Internap reported the events were unrelated.

The first outage occurred at the company’s 8th Avenue data center on May 16, 2014.  An estimated 20 companies were affected by the outages, including online video streaming platform Livestream.

On May 20, 2014 and again on May 22, 2014, Internap’s Broad Street data center experienced outages.  The company estimated less than half of its customers were affected by these two outages.

Although the Broad Street facility has redundant UPS systems, not all tenants choose this option because of additional cost.  Those customers paying extra for redundancy experienced an automatic switchover to the backup UPS.  However, the customers not paying for this feature faced several hours of downtime until the problems were fixed.

  1. Admin Error Causes Outage at Joyent’s Ashburn Data Center — May 27, 2014

A human error brought down one of Joyent’s data centers located in Ashburn, Virginia.  Joyent provides high-performance cloud infrastructure services.

Because one of the company’s administrators made a mistake, all of the servers in the facility had to be re-booted.  Joyent provided no details on the nature of the error.  However, a company spokesperson reported a “fat-finger” operator error was at fault.

Many in the industry questioned why Joyent’s system was not built to withstand such errors.  The company indicated it would be improving its software and operational procedures to prevent future outages.  It also said the administrator who made the error would not be disciplined.  Instead, the company plans to learn from the incident.

  1. Infrastructure Change Leads to Facebook Outage — September 3, 2014

Facebook was brought down by an infrastructure configuration change in September.  During the outage, users could not access the popular social network.

According to the company’s statement, they discovered the issue quickly and resolved it.  Although the outage lasted only 10 minutes, the fallout was significant.  For example, many users took to Twitter posting sarcastic tweets.  Facebook experienced two other outages in August and June of this year.

The company’s current data center infrastructure is designed and maintained by in-house engineers.  Facilities are located on both U.S. coasts and in Sweden.

Facebook uses a different “web-scale” approach to redundancy than traditional enterprises.  This approach relies on software to make IT systems resilient instead of building redundant layers in mechanical and electrical infrastructure.

As these events illustrate, outages affect all types of data centers and are caused by a variety of issues.  Every outage causes real pain for the company and the users of its services.  However, service provider data center outages are especially damaging because they host infrastructure for a number of companies.  In a cloud scenario, every server may host multiple customer nodes.

Since 2001, CyrusOne has been providing fully redundant power architectures not typically found in in-house data centers. By using advanced distributed redundant power architecture, CyrusOne achieves 2N power levels supported by a 100% uptime Service Level Agreement.  This power architecture ensures no interruptions in data center power availability.

With over two dozen data centers across the globe, CyrusOne helps many of the world’s largest global businesses – including nine of the global Fortune 20 companies and 140 of the Fortune 1000 – and companies of all sizes take advantage of the latest data center technology.  For more information on how to prevent data center outages, visit http://www.cyrusone.com/.

New Strains on In-House Healthcare Data Centers

In-house healthcare data centers have evolved from a necessary cost center to a strategic component.  In healthcare organizations, the data center plays a key role in storing and delivering critical information enabling quality patient care, ensuring regulatory compliance, developing sound business strategies, and enabling collaboration among staff, vendors, and patients.

The scope of who participates in data center decisions has also broadened.  In addition to IT, facilities and security personnel, data center decisions now can involve physicians, medical officers, chief health information managers, and compliance managers.

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Top 7 Items Look for in a Data Center Services Provider

Partnering with a data center services provider delivers many key benefits, but topping the list is the ability to make more effective use of capital and the ability to gain access to higher quality data center facilities.

Most companies find working with a data center provider enables them to reduce facility, infrastructure, and personnel costs since they move from operating in-house data centers to using outsourced data centers. Therefore, a company can greatly reduce the financial burden it carries and streamline its cost structure. A quality data center service provider also offers companies highly redundant, scalable solutions optimized across many customers.  Therefore, companies enjoy proven technology in top-tier data centers, without costs associated with managing it themselves.

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Top 6 Connectivity Issues that Could Ruin Your Business

Data centers house the business applications, data, and IT infrastructure critical to company operations.  However, these facilities play an equally important role in providing connectivity solutions.  Connectivity determines how information, applications and services are accessed from various end-points.

Connectivity solutions play a major role in application and data delivery, storage, disaster recovery, and cloud services. Given the dependence on reliable and always available connectivity, companies must choose their data center partners wisely.

When evaluating connectivity capabilities, security, reliability, flexibility, cost, dependency and bandwidth represent the top six capabilities affecting overall business performance.

Answering the following six questions will help uncover critical issues:

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The Size, Scope and Growth of the Multi-Tenant Data Center Market

A recently released report by 451 Research explores important characteristics of the global data center market.  Specializing in technology innovation and market disruption, the research and advisory company presented findings on the size, scope and growth of the multi-tenant data center market.  These facilities house the data center operations of multiple customers.

Key Findings of the 451 Research Study

According to the 2014 report, over 800 data center companies provide multi-tenant services worldwide.  These providers range in size from operating one data center in one market to over 20 facilities in different markets.
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How Businesses Realize the Benefits of Big Data

A study by Accenture Analytics revealed big data is making good on its promises, despite getting off to a rough start.  Initially, companies didn’t understand how to manage big data projects and were unsure of the value they would produce.  Organizations have now become well aware of how business-transforming big data can be and they are implementing technologies and processes to fully leverage it.

Accenture surveyed a wide variety of executives, including CIOs, COOs and CMOs from 19 countries and seven industries.  Basically, the research company wanted to find out how technology leaders perceive the current state of big data analytics.
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Data Center Build vs. Lease: Avoid the Ultimate Gamble

The build vs. lease conversation is entering a new stage. With increasing financial and operating risks associated with building, managing, and maintaining a company-owned data center, the scales are tipping in favor of a leasing model for most organizations.

Building a data center is one of the most expensive decisions a CIO will make.  Changing hardware, software and business needs can quickly turn a data center investment into a resource drain on a company.
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Eliminating the Confusion Surrounding Private, Public and Hybrid Clouds

Greater choice, but risks need to be considered.

Over the past few years, cloud computing has been touted as the number one way to simplify, yet strengthen, how the digital world functions.  Today, the benefits have been well documented.  Thanks to cloud computing technologies, companies of all sizes are managing their IT operations in ways never imagined.

Using cloud resources, computer applications and services are delivered to users through networks or the Internet.  Computational work is done remotely and delivered online for on-demand, anytime, anywhere, service availability.  As a result, companies reduce storage and processing power on local computers and devices.  They can invest less in infrastructure assets and operate with greater elasticity.
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Big Data: Cutting Through the Hype

“Big data” is as the name implies – sets of data so huge and complicated traditional storage and analytical tools often times have difficulty processing them.

As big data is being stored at record rates, companies have two major challenges.  First, they need to store and manage the volume of data.  Second, and most important, they need to analyze the vast amounts of data to derive value from it.

To put this explosion in perspective, a paper published during the 2012 IEEE Aerospace Conference estimated the size of digital data in 2011 to be 1.8 Zettabytes, or 1.8 trillion Gigabytes.
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Exploding Internet Traffic Drives the Need for Multi-Facility Interconnectivity

The growth of social networking, web services and cloud applications has caused an exponential increase in data and network traffic. As a result, powerful data centers are needed to handle burgeoning infrastructure requirements.

In addition, organizations must configure solutions for disaster recovery and business continuity.  Ensuring ongoing operations in the event of a power outage has never been more critical.

Data center providers must respond to both demands – maintaining high performance levels in light of escalating network traffic and enabling customers to continue operations during a disaster.  Interconnecting multiple data center facilities helps accomplish these goals.
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