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A difficult period ahead: Preserving uptime in challenging times

With the upcoming winter period looking to be a difficult period for many hosting providers, Adam Bradshaw discusses the obstacles many are facing and what can be done to overcome.

It is difficult to escape the bleak outlook for the winter ahead of us right now. The pandemic presented numerous hurdles for the data centre industry, but the coming period looks more challenging than anything the industry has faced. At ServerChoice, we've thoroughly prepared for the coming period, so our customers can rest assured they won't be impacted by the turbulent times ahead.

Energy has been an ongoing issue for the industry since late 2021, but the problems have recently been exacerbated. Many have had to adapt to increased prices, but the closing of Nord Stream One has brought into sharper focus the fragility of the UK's energy supply lines. The prospect of blackouts looms large in the coming months.

On top of this, recent Big Tech outages due to hardware malfunctions and overheating bring into a sharper focus that every data centre is vulnerable to circumstances, both internal and external.

ServerChoice has maintained its 100% uptime record since its beginning in 2008. Let's discuss how we're planning to ensure this uptime record during unprecedented times.

Power units in a data centre

Energy resilience

With the possibility of blackouts this winter now plausible, providers need to strengthen their energy resilience. Data centres are a cornerstone of the country's digital operations, but will likely (and understandably) not be prioritised ahead of hospitals, schools and other public services in the case of energy rationing.

Customers should be seeking out providers that have locked into long-term contracts, have secured energy at reasonable rates, and who store of fuel on-site. In the event of generators being used, densely populated data centre locations, such as the Docklands in London, risk being caught short if there's a sudden rush for fuel.

Data centre businesses with access to enormous economies of scale have many macro-options available to them, such as building wind farms that solely power their data centres. But, for more specialist providers like us, there are many other options we can look at.

In addition to securing energy supply lines, those operating on a smaller scale can take simple practical steps such as trialling and testing supply chain routes. This an effective method for building resilience. Dry fuel runs need to be conducted so providers can have confidence they'll be able to adequately respond to sudden blackouts and shortages.

An engineer with a clipboard in a data centre

Operational resilience

As generators are less reliable than the national grid, the more time dependent on them the greater the risk to uptime. To help offset this jeopardy, the internal workings of data centres need to be as secure as possible.

Indeed, Google and Oracle's shutdowns of their London data centres, as well as Google's data centre fire, serve as a timely reminder that when mismanaged, the internal workings of a data centre can be just as large a threat to uptime as external factors.

Several best practices can be implemented to improve data centre resilience, but the most important of which is reducing human error. Mistakes made by individuals still account for most data centre outages.

It is important to work with a data centre that hires competent, team-orientated people, instilling within them a mission-critical mentality. They also enable their staff to do their best jobs through a thorough analysis of the facility maintenance scope. By gaining a comprehensive understanding of the hours required for operations, the correct electrical and mechanical expertise can always be onsite to respond to incidents before they snowball, something imperative given the excepted increased reliance on generators.

Why should I change?

Data centres and colocation facilities have been through turbulent times before. From competing with cloud to defending against state-backed cyber-attacks, providers are no strangers to large challenges. Yet the coming period of energy shortages, blackouts, and increased threats to resilience looks like a challenge that even the most experienced operators will find daunting. Prudence and preparation will be of the utmost importance to ride out the storm, with ServerChoice being the right provider to help you through these turbulent times.

Some of our customers

  • Deutsche Telekom UK - ServerChoice Customer
  • Euroffice - ServerChoice Customer
  • VisitBritain - ServerChoice Customer
  • Konica Minolta - ServerChoice Customer
  • Formula One Autocentres - ServerChoice Customer
  • Seajacks - ServerChoice Customer

The FlexPower® and FlexMove® initiatives really made them stand out from the competition. Not only did they reduce the number of cabinets required, they also save us money on our power consumption going forward.

It's vital for us that we achieve the highest level of uptime and ServerChoice have consistently delivered a service that meets the demands of our organisation.

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