Summer Temperatures Set to Claim Server Victims, Industry Warned

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As the first incidents of overheating occur, companies need to protect their servers from the threats to business continuity posed by summer weather, Redstation advises.

Redstation is not based near any flood zones and we have fully redundant uninterruptible power supplies and cooling systems backed up by our own onsite diesel generator

Soaring summer temperatures could cause servers to overheat and crash leading to widespread business disruption and the summer heat has already claimed its first data centre victim. This is the warning of Hampshire-based data centre and hosting specialist, Redstation, which has also issued guidelines on what questions IT directors should be doing internally and asking of their hosts over the summer months.

Earlier this summer servers at a major London data centre in the City of London - which hosts popular website, among others - overheated when a chilling system failed, leading to outages. Typically, data centres should run between 21-28°C, but Redstation warns that many in-house server rooms do not have redundant cooling systems - often due to cost - which means that air conditioning units could trip and cause servers to overheat and crash. Even some well-equipped hosted services providers have struggled, as the London data centre incident demonstrates.

"While we may enjoy the sun, data centres typically have a harder time of it as the heat adds extra pressure to cooling systems," warned Redstation's Richard Deacon. "For organisations that cannot afford for their servers to fail, the only way to ensure uptime is to either deploy redundant cooling onsite or outsource to trusted service providers which can guarantee your servers will always be maintained at optimum temperatures."

Redstation recommends that IT directors take the following steps to avoid onsite overheating:

  • Closely monitor servers and regularly test to see how each performs in higher temperatures
  • Install temperature sensors into your server room, so equipment temperatures can be monitored and make sure the server room temperature does not exceed 28°C and beware of isolated hotspots
  • Back-up data even more regularly than usual to coincide with the increased risk
  • Establish or review existing contingency procedures in case of overheating to guarantee business continuity
  • Make management aware of the increased threat during this period. The board may not contain technical people but a pre-emptive warning will ensure no unpleasant surprises if downtime does occur and may even secure more budget for contingency strategies

If IT directors are not confident that they have adequate power or redundancy to cool their servers and are unable to upgrade cooling systems then they should consider outsourcing to a specialist. If so, they should follow the below procedures, Redstation advises:

  • Visit your potential data centre and ask them about their Plan B and Plan C in case of a power outage
  • Research the history of the data centre operator online and look at its client list. This should help you form an opinion on its level of competency
  • When choosing a provider, don't cut costs. Hosting costs can vary but it's not worth taking the risk with a 'cheaper option', which may be cutting corners which could backfire on you in the long term

Clive Longbottom of analyst group Quocirca said that outsourcing was a suitable approach to better uptime during hot weather.

"Hosted data centre service providers are focused on managing the data centre - that is their business, and they do not have any other areas to concentrate on that could de-focus them. Their whole business model rests on their success or failure to do that," he said. "Organisations that manage their own data centres need to look at recent failures due to overheating, or at the number of near-miss overheat issues and think hard as to whether they can afford that risk themselves."

Redstation's Deacon added that summer heat waves in Britain often caused other effects which the company was adept to handle, such as power surges, flooding and lightning strikes.

"Redstation is not based near any flood zones and we have fully redundant uninterruptible power supplies and cooling systems backed up by our own onsite diesel generator," he said. "Spikes in power are filtered out and in case of power failure our diesel generator automatically starts and runs indefinitely. These are all factors which need to be taken into account when reviewing potential data centres services."

About Redstation

Redstation Limited was founded in 1998 as a domain registration and web hosting company. In 2004 the company added dedicated servers to its product range and in 2007 opened its first purpose-built data centre in Hampshire representing an investment of more than £2 million.

Today the company provides web hosting, dedicated servers and colocation to thousands of customers around the world - including the British Government, international corporations, banks and SMEs.

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Richard Deacon
Redstation Limited
01329 828224 ext. 210
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