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Daily CSR
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Black & Veatch Data Center MD’s Take On Resilient Data Centers


“Distributed, redundant technology for uninterruptible power supply, along with supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems for each storage unit, is a cost-effective method for achieving backup goals”, says Denton.

Source: flickr.com; (CC BY 2.0)
Source: flickr.com; (CC BY 2.0)
Dailycsr.com – 22 August 2019 – The Managing Director of Black & Veatch’s Data Centers’ business, Wes Denton informs that the operators as well as businesses of data center depend on how predictable “their power supplies” turn out to be. There are many factors like “grid stability, weather conditions” among others which pose as threats to the company’s system. Regardless of the situation the infrastructure needs to continue to function.
The outages faced by data center stem from various issues like network problems, “hosting disruptions” and IT system failures. Nevertheless, the most significant problem is caused by the “interrupted power supply”, reported the Uptime Institute in its research results. While Denton writes:
“In fact, power outages were responsible for 36 percent of the biggest global data center failures from January 2016 to mid-2018. Network issues were the problem in 25 percent of the cases, and IT/software issues caused outages 22 percent of the time.
“Forty-six percent of failures cost operators $100,000 to $5 million, with some incidents resulting in damages that reached the tens of millions, the institute reported”.
In fact, prolonged outages often affect the public relations of the business. Giving an example of the same, Denton recounts:
“For example, the 2018 network failure that cost PSA Airlines $35 million included 3,000 flight cancellations, according to USA TODAY. Poor customer experiences, as well as data losses and breaches, likely lead to declines in future business across all industries”.
Sadly, as per Denton’s observation, the data centers have been plagued by outages in a far worse manner now a days. Furthermore, Denton adds:
“Uptime Institute reported that 31 percent of operators had experienced IT downtime or severe service degradation in the past year, up six percentage points from the year before. The most troubling finding: the majority of incidents were preventable”.
The good news is that the outages resulted by power loss can now be reversed by “data center operators”, which means the latter can also do damage control in “associated declines in revenue and brand power”. Here is Denton’s view on the investments made by most resilient Data Centers:
“As renewable energy becomes more mainstream, the time is right for the data center industry to embrace on-site microgrids, fuel cells and battery storage, as well as photovoltaic solar and wind power. Self-sustaining data centers are possible through a combination of power supply options, demand-side management and energy management software”.
When it comes to public scrutiny of data centers for their carbon emissions, the latter can “meet sustainability goals with microgrids and distributed generation”, says Denton. While, generating power and battery storage facility on-site “also allows operators to return excesses to the grid and strengthen their social licenses to operate. In addition to solar and wind power, supply options include biogas generation, geothermal energy and hydropower”.
However, here are few questions that operators need to ask before venturing into “microgrid or distributed generation”, writes Denton:
  • “What devices will be powered, and how will energy be stored?
  • “What’s the goal: emergency power, revenue, reducing power purchase costs, improving power quality or increasing resiliency?
  • “Is the microgrid software customizable to my needs?
  • “What are the limits on current functionality versus future expandability?”
A resilient data center, states Denton, comes with “diverse network connectivity, multi-cloud storage, and software application resiliency”. Since it is inevitable to face hardware failure eventually, the important thing is to ensure the functioning of application layer at the “end-user services when failure occurs”.