‘Extensive’ Damage at The Planet’s Data Center

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Damage from Saturday night’s explosion at The Planet’s Houston data center was more extensive than initially believed, the company said late Sunday. CEO Doug Erwin reported that the explosion and fire destroyed the cabling under the first floor of the data center, known as H1. The Planet expects to have servers on the second floor of the facility back online early Monday, but Erwin said the downtime will be longer for 3,000 servers housed on the first floor.

“While no customer servers have been damaged or lost, damage to our H1 data center is worse than initially expected,” Erwin wrote on the Planet’s customer forums. “Three walls of the electrical equipment room on the first floor blew several feet from their original position, and the underground cabling that powers the first floor of H1 was destroyed.”

Erwin outlined a two-step recovery process for customers on the first floor area, which will take about a week to complete. “For the first step, we have designed a temporary method that we believe will bring power back to those servers sometime tomorrow evening, but the solution will be temporary,” said Erwin. “We will use a generator to supply power through next weekend when the necessary gear will be delivered to permanently restore normal utility power and our battery backup system. During the upcoming week, we will be working with those customers to resolve issues.”


The electrical explosion and fire Saturday at The Planet took the entire Houston facility offline, affecting 9,000 customer servers. Early indications are that the fire was caused by a short in a high-volume wire conduit. This was the second time an explosion and fire has occurred at the Houston data center, which had a transformer explode in June, 2003 when the company was known as Rackshack.

Erwin reaffirmed The Planet’s intention to proactively credit accounts for downtime under terms of its service level agreements (SLAs). “We know this may not be a satisfactory solution for you and your business but at this time, it is the best we can do,” the CEO wrote. “I recognize that this is not all good news. I can only assure you we will continue to utilize every means possible to fully restore service.”

The explosion affected only the main Houston data center, with no impact on any of The Planet’s other five data centers. The company hosts more than 50,000 servers and 22,000 customers in its six data centers.

For additional coverage, see Center Networks and The Syndicated Elitist.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.