[LINK] NSW data centres

Tom Worthington tom.worthington at tomw.net.au
Thu Jan 14 09:45:02 AEDT 2010

Tom Koltai wrote:

> ... built-in redundancy, (in aircon, power and fire extinguishing 
> systems), ensures pretty much that the catastrophe cannot occur. ...

Redundancy does not have to be expensive. For example a data centre
can have more than one connection to the power grid. This helps if
someone puts a backhoe through one of the power connections.

Another example is at Canberra Data Centres, where they have a large
insulated tank of cooling water to tide them over in the unlikely event
that all their chillier plants break down at the same time. There is 
also a water coupling and a concrete pad outside the building so that a 
truck mounted temporary chillier can be installed:

> What it doesn't allow for is natural disasters like floods, broken 
> water mains and earthquakes. ...

You need to check a flood map before sighting a computer centre. I was
going to put one in a basement of a government building in Canberra,
before I discovered the ground floor would be underwater in the once in 
100 year flood.

> Australia is pretty safe in the earthquake category ...

Australia is subject to earthquakes. Geoscience Australia produce
"Natural Hazard Publications":

Bushfire is also a risk. Embers can travel kilometres. Even if the data 
centre well protected, procedures might require everyone in an area to 
be evacuated.

> ... real risk is flood which can be alleviated by building high.

A commonly overlooked problem is local flooding in the building from
poorly designed drains.

> ... persons wishing physical harm to the installation can again be
> defended against.  Crash bollards, reinforced walls, security
> cameras, restricted access area etc. ...

You do not know real paranoia until you have been inside one of these 
centres. There are cameras watching the cable pits outside to make sure 
someone does not cut a cable, labyrinth corridors which go up, round and 
down, so it is hard for an intruder to rush the building (or drive a 
vehicle in) and I have seen a commercial site with bullet proof widows.

> ... close by a nuclear reactor facility for all the obvious 
> advantages.

The People's Daily data centre in Beijing has armed guards around the 
complex. I was surprised at being allowed in: 

I suggest a better way is to keep a low profile: site the centre in an 
industrial area in what looks like an ordinary office or warehouse. 
Don't encourage visitors.

Tom Worthington FACS HLM, TomW Communications Pty Ltd. t: 0419496150
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia  http://www.tomw.net.au
Adjunct Lecturer, The Australian National University t: 02 61255694
Computer Science http://cs.anu.edu.au/people.php?StaffID=140274

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