November 5-7, 2019: ICT & Logistics
It might seem an innocuous detail: three or four nines after the decimal point. But in the data center world, that extra nine is key. The Uptime Institute’s TIER Classification is an important international standard. TIER IV is the highest TIER level, requiring an uptime of 99.995%.
Since its creation, Smartdc Rotterdam has had an uptime of 99.9999%, and our data center in Heerlen even has 100% uptime. The difference between the minimum uptime required for TIER IV and the uptime of Smartdc Rotterdam is greater than it might appear: with an uptime of 99.995%, a data center has a downtime of 26 minutes a year.
The highest achievable uptime
These figures are not acceptable to Smartdc. Our clients expect the highest achievable uptime. Not surprising when you consider that our data center controls traffic lights, regulates payment transactions and hosts tens of thousands of workstations and webshops. If all these applications were to be offline for half an hour every year, the cost would be enormous, not to mention the safety risks.
The problem with downtime is not only that applications are not available, but also that data could be lost. If power unexpectedly goes off, servers are not shut down properly and files may become corrupt. Rebooting all the systems often takes much longer than the actual downtime, because all files must first be checked before the processes can be restarted.
The only way to achieve excellent uptime is to implement all systems redundantly. A second powerhouse was recently built in our Rotterdam data center, as a result of which every rack now has a fully separate A and B feed. The primary power supply is routed via the A feed, as shown in the diagram below.
The A feed is designed to ensure that it can practically never fail. If a grid power failure occurs, a battery-powered UPS cluster ensures that the racks are provided with power without interruption. The generators are immediately started up and the power supply takes over within tens of seconds, again with no major surges or drops.
If something does go wrong, the same extensive set-up has been installed in duplicate with identical transformers, UPS clusters and generators. This B feed is a backup power supply with the same quality and performance as the A feed. This set-up is built with the Uptime Institute’s TIER IV standards as reference.