Nor’easter easier on data center uptime than Sandy

Wednesday’s storm causes more power outages in northeast, but data centers remain online

8 November 2012 by Yevgeniy Sverdlik - DatacenterDynamics

There have been no reports of major data center outages in the US northeast Wednesday, as a powerful storm referred to as the “nor’easter” arrived in the afternoon, bringing strong winds, rain, snow and more coastal flooding.

The storm, a regular occurrence in the region, came only a few days after the majority of data centers in the region saw utility power restored. Many had been running on backup generators since 29 October, when Hurricane Sandy caused massive floods and power outages across the northeast.

Con Edison, the utility serving New York City and the nearby Westchester County, said it had restored power 900,000 of its customers as of early afternoon on Wednesday. The nor’easter added about 22,000 customers to the list of those who had been without power since Sandy hit, according to a report by the US Department of Energy (DoE).

About 670,000 customers in seven northeastern states were without utility power as of 2pm EDT on Wednesday, according to the DoE.

Digital Realty Trust, provider of wholesale data center space that has facilities in every major city on the east coast, from Miami to Boston, said all of its data centers that had been in Sandy’s path had been running on utility power since 3 November – a status the nor’easter had not changed.

“Everything we own and operate is up and running on utility power,” Lauren Williams, director of marketing at Digital, wrote in an email.

This includes Digital’s data center space the company leases at 111 8th Ave. in New York City, a major data center and network-carrier hub. Confirmed by Internap, also a tenant there, the building is back on utility power after several days of running on generators. It continued receiving utility power on Wednesday evening, following landfall of the nor’easter.

Another one of New York’s major data center hubs, at 75 Broad St., has not yet seen its utility service restored, so it has been running on generator power, an Internap spokeswoman said. The provider also has a data center at this location.

Squarespace, one of the tenants of Peer 1, another data center provider with space at 75 Broad, said a redundant generator had been delivered to the site as backup for the one on the building’s 17th floor. The primary generator (and manual fuel deliveries via stairs) has been keeping the building online since the post-Sandy utility outage, and its fuel filter needs to be cleaned. This is why a backup power source is good news. Once its online, technicians will be able to install a redundant fuel filter on the main generator, a Squarespace representative wrote in a status update online.

As far as nor’easter goes, Squarespace was optimistic. “We do not anticipate any impact from the “Nor’easter” blizzard/storm that is currently descending upon New York (though we certainly aren’t thrilled by it!),” the update read.

CenturyLink-owned provider Savvis also reported that its data centers in the region had been operating on utility power, which did not get interrupted by Wednesday’s storm.