Data centres swelter with the rest of us

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26 June 2018 | 0

Billy MacInnesIf there’s one subject that unites everybody in Ireland, it’s the weather. Whether you meet someone you know well, a person you vaguely know or a complete stranger, you can get odds on that the conversation will quickly turn to the weather. In normal circumstances, that means ‘rain’ and how much or little of it there is in any given day or week.

In Ireland, quantities of rain are defined by ‘a wee drop’, ‘a bit’, ‘a lot’ or, here in Donegal, ‘a wile lot’. Irish measurements differ significantly from those used in other countries, so a wee drop here is closer to a sustained downpour in the UK.

While people here might moan about the rain, it does have a few benefits. One, it keeps everything green. Two, we’re unlikely to suffer any major droughts or die of thirst. Three, it helps keep the climate here close to ideal for data centres.

Given the amount of rain we get here, it’s no surprise that people are always happy to see the sun. Most people, at any rate. After about a week or so, you’re likely to find a few giving out about the heat and wishing there was a bit more of a breeze in it.

Right now, we’re experiencing a great spell of weather altogether, with newspapers making comparisons between Ireland and far off sunny places that, for a change, are in Ireland’s favour. Places such as Rio, for example. It’s lovely to hear it but we know better than to expect it to last too long.

In any case, if Ireland ends up getting too much good weather, it could seriously affect this country’s standing as a preferred venue for data centres. We got an indication of this earlier in the month when Microsoft’s Azure service suffered an outage that lasted nine hours.

According to a report in The Register, the cause of the outage was a failure at its North Europe data centre in Dublin. Describing the outage, Microsoft stated: “On 19 Jun 2018, Data Center Critical Environments systems in one of our data centres in the North Europe region experienced an increase in outside air temperature.”

All this took place when the temperature in Dublin was 18 degrees, so God alone knows what might happen when the forecast heat wave strikes this week. Let’s hope the heat isn’t here to stay, otherwise Ireland’s attempts to put itself at the forefront of the digital economy could melt away in the sun.

Still, it’s comforting to know that data centres in Ireland, like the people, can only stand the heat for so long before they start falling over.

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