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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Redundancy at Every Level

Many technology, computing, energy, finance, and healthcare firms depend on data centers for their colocation needs.  Businesses use data centers for disaster recovery operations as well.  A reliable and efficient Houston colocation facility must have several key components in regard to redundancy. 

Redundancy refers to the ability of a colocation facility to keep their operations running 24/7/365.  Houston colocation facilities should have secure and constant sources of power, water, and network connectivity.  No component or system has a single point of failure in a fully redundant utility supply chain.  Dual utility feeds make this possible.

Power Supply
There are four distinct data center power feed classifications:

1.)    Class One: ‘Single Feed’
  1. A single substation supplies the power to the data center.
  i. The substation supplies multiple, external utility transformers with power. These in turn supply the data center.
  ii.  This system is risky because the power supply has multiple points of failure.
  1. If the substation experiences an outage, then the data center experiences an outage.
  2. There is no MTO (manual throw-over) or ATO (automatic throw-over) switch.

2.)    Class Two: ‘Single Substation’
  1. A single substation supplies two power feeds to the data center.
  i.  An ATO/MTO receives the power supply and then supplies the external utility transformers with power.
  ii.  This system reduces outage risk, but is still inherently risky because all power comes from one substation.
  1. There are multiple points of failure in a Class Two system.

3.)    Class Three: ‘Dual Substations’
  1. Two substations each supply a feed to the data center.
  i.  An ATO/MTO receives power supplies from both feeds and then supplies the external utility transformers with power.
  ii.  This system is still risky because the data center must rely upon the ATO/MTO switch’s proper operation.

4.)    Class Four: ‘True Dual Feed’
  1. Two substations each supply a direct power feed to internal transformers within the data center. 
  i.      The data center has control of their power supply, not the utility company.
  ii.      This guarantees full redundancy.

Businesses should select a Houston colocation data center that offers a Class Four dual power feed.

Water Supply
Houston colocation facilities use a considerable amount of electricity, due to the nature of high performance computing.  Significant amounts of cool water are needed to keep temperatures of equipment low and stable.  Water cooling techniques offer a more energy efficient solution than air-conditioning techniques.  Houston colocation facilities should have dual water feeds that originate from different utility sources.  This ensures complete reliability and redundancy.  On-site emergency water storage tanks provide a way for data centers to guarantee that the water cooling system will operate seamlessly in the case of disaster or utility shutdown.     

Network Connections
A Houston colocation facility should offer blended and carrier-neutral Internet access.  Blended Internet access gives clients the most efficient and reliable routing for network connectivity.  Carrier-neutral access allows businesses to select from a wide variety of carriers.      

It is vital that a Houston colocation facility offer full redundancy at every utility level.  Power, water, and network connectivity should have true, dual feeds.  Businesses should select a Houston colocation facility that can provide these guarantees in order to maintain continuous and secure operations.

James Rogers discusses colocation opportunities in the Houston Area.  He believes colocation should be considered by any company that wants to keep data safe. James helps educate readers about the benefits of colocation and data centers for companies of all sizes. 
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