Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Utility Power Demand

Rich Miller beat me to the post on the Wall Street and Technology article titled "Don't Panic, The Grid's Going Down". I had been thinking that for all of the stories lately on how much power servers are using in the data center there wasn't much coverage on the available utility power from outside the data center.

The aforementioned article talks about the New York area, but surely this is bound to be on the minds of data centers most everywhere. It's amazing the number of data centers being planned/built in Texas. Here is a run-down of the announcements off the top of my head:

Stream Realty - 150,000 square feet
Microsoft - 470,000 square feet
Lowes - 100,000 square feet
NSA - new data center
Austin Data Centers - over 350,000 square feet
And then there's The Planet/EV1 in Dallas and Rackspace in San Antonio (already)

There are many others I imagine that I missed. Now -- with all of these new centers coming on line this year or next, all I can think about is the Texas power grid, ERCOT. Last year they shut off power to thousands when record spring temperatures were experienced. How well are the Texas power grids set to handle this massive increase in demand? There have been other brownouts around the country and many more to come I'm sure.

Then there was the 2003 NorthEast blackout that seems to be a reason for the DHS to build a backup data center and focus location selection in.......wait for it......TEXAS! On top of all of this let's not forget the potential cyber attack on power grids, as explained in this 2005 Washington Post article; or saboteur's with too much clearance.

Even when you have enough power coming in the data center, the staff may be the ultimate cause of an outage (humerous story here)

It will be an interesting summer to see what happens in the state of Texas (or elsewhere) with utilities and supply and demand.

2 comments:

chuck goolsbee said...

I can't imagine Texas power comes cheap either.

Human error is BY FAR the greatest risk to datacenter uptime. Terrorism is by far, the least likely cause. Seriously, the chances of downtime by terror attack is probably less likely than say, a squirrel-casued (or in Texas, an armadillo-caused) outage. Why does everyone focus on terrorism threats? I guess they are a lot sexier than squirells or stupid humans.

--chuck

rackaid said...

Despite having equipment at a datacenter in NYC, we are not that concerned. In 2003 as well as 9/11, the facility weathered the impact just fine. I think the building has feeds from two different distribution networks. Planning is key in this issue. The article makes a very good point about building infrastructure. Many older facilities simply do not have the cooling capacity to handle enough equipment that the power grid becomes and issue.