Big data center down now too…

San Francisco’s 365 Main datacenter went down with a power outage, which knocked off Six Apart, Technorati, and Craigslist, among others. O’Reilly’s Radar is tracking the situation. This might have something to do with the Netflix datacenter having trouble too.

What I wonder is just how did this happen? Datacenters usually have their own power systems and backups (the ones I’ve been in have both huge uninterrupted power supplies which are literally huge batteries as well as generators that they can fire up if it looks like power won’t come back on soon). Sounds like someone really screwed up, or, the infrastructure isn’t being paid attention to — both of which are bad for the tech industry. This is especially bad for a datacenter that is located miles from two major earthquake faults. If we have a big earthquake here it’s conceivable that power would be out for days if the right lines got cut.

Comments

  1. :) This is exactly why Microsoft is building a new data center in our fairly cheap power, no earthquake no hurricane city of San Antonio!

    Oh – and Google – they are already here, but in a much smaller profile than the new MS datacenter.

    Rob

  2. :) This is exactly why Microsoft is building a new data center in our fairly cheap power, no earthquake no hurricane city of San Antonio!

    Oh – and Google – they are already here, but in a much smaller profile than the new MS datacenter.

    Rob

  3. Somebody screwed the pooch, bigtime.

    ServePath is on battery backup but still operational.

  4. Somebody screwed the pooch, bigtime.

    ServePath is on battery backup but still operational.

  5. I’m in SoMa right now. There were a series of outages between 2 and 3 PM PDT, each lasting a minute or two.

  6. I’m in SoMa right now. There were a series of outages between 2 and 3 PM PDT, each lasting a minute or two.

  7. Even San Antonio is subject to backhoe fade, which is the likely culprit in today’s outages. According to the IT staff at my employer (which was also affected), the datacenters are fine, it’s the network switches connecting them to the outside world that are having problems.

  8. Even San Antonio is subject to backhoe fade, which is the likely culprit in today’s outages. According to the IT staff at my employer (which was also affected), the datacenters are fine, it’s the network switches connecting them to the outside world that are having problems.

  9. Uhmmm… actually, a properly designed datacenter has numerous connections to the backbone all coming in from different places. If all the inputs were run in one bundle, then that’s a bonehead problem, not a backhoe problem!

    Rob

  10. Uhmmm… actually, a properly designed datacenter has numerous connections to the backbone all coming in from different places. If all the inputs were run in one bundle, then that’s a bonehead problem, not a backhoe problem!

    Rob

  11. So, I suppose that when disaster strikes and takes out a key data center, we can update via Twitter and Facebook right? Oh, wait, nevermind.

  12. So, I suppose that when disaster strikes and takes out a key data center, we can update via Twitter and Facebook right? Oh, wait, nevermind.

  13. I was wondering if Netflix’s problem was in relation but they’ve been down for hours and the datacenter hasn’t, has it?

  14. unfortunately this kind f thing does happen occasionally. I had the same experience with out tier one data center provider last year. Fully redundant power, tested monthly, but an unexpected sequence of events, and a mistimed override, brought the whole thing down.
    Interested to hear what happened at 365 though. Sitting here in SOMA we lost power about 5 times for 30 seconds each time

  15. unfortunately this kind f thing does happen occasionally. I had the same experience with out tier one data center provider last year. Fully redundant power, tested monthly, but an unexpected sequence of events, and a mistimed override, brought the whole thing down.
    Interested to hear what happened at 365 though. Sitting here in SOMA we lost power about 5 times for 30 seconds each time

  16. Here’s what really went down at 365main:

    365main, like all facilities built by Above.net back in the day, doesn’t have a battery backup UPS. Instead, they have these things called “CPS”, or continuious power systems. What they are is very very large flywheels that sit between electric motors and generators. So the power from PG&E never directly touches 365main. PGE power drives the motors which turn the flywheels which then turn the generators (or alternators, I don’t remember the exact details) which in turn power the facility. There are 10 of these on their roof.

    The flywheels (the CPS system) can run the generator at full load for up to 60 seconds according to the specs.

    There are also 10 large diesel engines up on the roof as well, connected to these flywheels. If the power is out for more than 15 seconds, the generators start up, and clutch in and drive the flywheels. There are no generators in the basement. (There is a large duel storage in the basement, and the fuel is pumped up to the roof. There are smaller fuel tanks on the roof as well. )

    Here’s what I think happened. Since there were several brief outages in a row before the power went out for good, it seems that the CPS (flywheel) systems weren’t fully back up to speed when the next outage occurred. Since several of these grid power interruption happened in a row, and were shorter than the time required to trigger generator startup, the generators were not automatically started, BUT the CPS didn’t have time to get back up to full capacity. By the 6th power glitch, there wasn’t enough energy stored in the flywheels to keep the system going long enough for the diesel generators to start up and come to speed before switching over.

    Why they just didn’t manually switch on the generators at that point is beyond me.

    So they had a brief power outage. By our logs, it looks like it was at the most 2 minutes, but probably closer to 20 seconds or so.

    Here’s the letter they sent to their customers about this:

    This afternoon a power outage in San Francisco affected the 365 Main St. data
    center. In the process of 6 cascading outages, one of the outages was not
    protected and reset systems in many of the colo facilities of that building.
    This resulted in the following:

    - Some of our routers were momentarily down, causing network issues. These
    were resolved within minutes. Network issues would have been noticed in our
    San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland facilities.

    - DNS servers lost power and did not properly come back up. This has been
    resolved after about an hour of downtime and may have caused issues for many
    GNi customers that would appear as network issues

    - Blades in the BC environment were reset as a result of the power loss.
    While all boxes seem to be back up we are investigating issues as they come in

    - One of our SAN systems may have been affected. This is being checked on
    right now

    If you have been experiencing network or DNS issues, please test your
    connections again. Note that blades in the DVB environment were not affected.

    We apologize for this inconvenience. Once the current issues at hand are
    resolved, we will be investigating why the redundancy in our colocation power
    did not work as it should have, and we will be producing a postmortem report.

  17. Here’s what really went down at 365main:

    365main, like all facilities built by Above.net back in the day, doesn’t have a battery backup UPS. Instead, they have these things called “CPS”, or continuious power systems. What they are is very very large flywheels that sit between electric motors and generators. So the power from PG&E never directly touches 365main. PGE power drives the motors which turn the flywheels which then turn the generators (or alternators, I don’t remember the exact details) which in turn power the facility. There are 10 of these on their roof.

    The flywheels (the CPS system) can run the generator at full load for up to 60 seconds according to the specs.

    There are also 10 large diesel engines up on the roof as well, connected to these flywheels. If the power is out for more than 15 seconds, the generators start up, and clutch in and drive the flywheels. There are no generators in the basement. (There is a large duel storage in the basement, and the fuel is pumped up to the roof. There are smaller fuel tanks on the roof as well. )

    Here’s what I think happened. Since there were several brief outages in a row before the power went out for good, it seems that the CPS (flywheel) systems weren’t fully back up to speed when the next outage occurred. Since several of these grid power interruption happened in a row, and were shorter than the time required to trigger generator startup, the generators were not automatically started, BUT the CPS didn’t have time to get back up to full capacity. By the 6th power glitch, there wasn’t enough energy stored in the flywheels to keep the system going long enough for the diesel generators to start up and come to speed before switching over.

    Why they just didn’t manually switch on the generators at that point is beyond me.

    So they had a brief power outage. By our logs, it looks like it was at the most 2 minutes, but probably closer to 20 seconds or so.

    Here’s the letter they sent to their customers about this:

    This afternoon a power outage in San Francisco affected the 365 Main St. data
    center. In the process of 6 cascading outages, one of the outages was not
    protected and reset systems in many of the colo facilities of that building.
    This resulted in the following:

    - Some of our routers were momentarily down, causing network issues. These
    were resolved within minutes. Network issues would have been noticed in our
    San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland facilities.

    - DNS servers lost power and did not properly come back up. This has been
    resolved after about an hour of downtime and may have caused issues for many
    GNi customers that would appear as network issues

    - Blades in the BC environment were reset as a result of the power loss.
    While all boxes seem to be back up we are investigating issues as they come in

    - One of our SAN systems may have been affected. This is being checked on
    right now

    If you have been experiencing network or DNS issues, please test your
    connections again. Note that blades in the DVB environment were not affected.

    We apologize for this inconvenience. Once the current issues at hand are
    resolved, we will be investigating why the redundancy in our colocation power
    did not work as it should have, and we will be producing a postmortem report.

  18. “power out for days”. If the big one hits try weeks. How long were parts of Seattle down recently? Up to ten days. And that was with little damage done to other regions and states.

    I hope everyone reading has food and water for at least ten days. Officially FEMA tells you three days. Unofficially ten days at a presentation I attended last year.

  19. “power out for days”. If the big one hits try weeks. How long were parts of Seattle down recently? Up to ten days. And that was with little damage done to other regions and states.

    I hope everyone reading has food and water for at least ten days. Officially FEMA tells you three days. Unofficially ten days at a presentation I attended last year.

  20. Yeah, that’s why I said “maybe it’s true, and maybe it’s ValleyWag!” I thought the story was way too funny to ignore… I see they attack you all the time, so I knew you would get a kick out of their reporting…

    TTFN

  21. Yeah, that’s why I said “maybe it’s true, and maybe it’s ValleyWag!” I thought the story was way too funny to ignore… I see they attack you all the time, so I knew you would get a kick out of their reporting…

    TTFN

  22. Echoing some of the earlier comments, each summer there are brownouts around the country. Smart companies plan for this and have multiple data centers. i/o Data Centers is another excellent alternate data center choice in Phoenix, AZ where there are few California weather or other risks. They have the generators and backup to make sure this doesn’t happen.

  23. Echoing some of the earlier comments, each summer there are brownouts around the country. Smart companies plan for this and have multiple data centers. i/o Data Centers is another excellent alternate data center choice in Phoenix, AZ where there are few California weather or other risks. They have the generators and backup to make sure this doesn’t happen.

  24. When are you people gonna move to Vancouver? No brownouts here. Also no government spyware (at least, none that runs well enough to be useful!).

    Here’s the laughing squid story:
    http://laughingsquid.com/massive-power-outages-hit-san-franciscos-soma-district/

    It’s strange: this happened what, two days after the two largest bandwidth providers in the US also failed, causing some WordPress.com blogs (like mine!) to be inaccessible for up to several hours.

    It’s just…weird. I’m getting my tinfoil helmet.

  25. When are you people gonna move to Vancouver? No brownouts here. Also no government spyware (at least, none that runs well enough to be useful!).

    Here’s the laughing squid story:
    http://laughingsquid.com/massive-power-outages-hit-san-franciscos-soma-district/

    It’s strange: this happened what, two days after the two largest bandwidth providers in the US also failed, causing some WordPress.com blogs (like mine!) to be inaccessible for up to several hours.

    It’s just…weird. I’m getting my tinfoil helmet.