Major Outage at Seattle Data Center

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Multiple data centers at Seattle’s Fisher Plaza are offline after a fire in an electrical vault, which has left much of the complex without power and generator support. The largest impact has been extended downtime for the payment portal Authorize.net, which was offline for hours, leaving thousands of merchants unable to process credit card payments through their web sites. The downtime has also affected Microsoft’s Bing Travel service, Geocaching.com, domain registrar Dotster and web hosting provider AdHost, along with dozens of other sites. 

UPDATE: Power was restored early Saturday morning, July 4, and tenants report that servers are coming back online.  As of 10 a.m. Eastern Saturday, Geocaching and AdHostare are back online, but Bing Travel continues to display a message about the outage.

Authorize.net has since been able to restore its web site and most of its processing services through a backup data center. But with key electrical systems out of action for an indefinite period, building staff are turning to portable generators to provide an interim solution for tenants, who are being told that power may be restored sometime Friday evening.  

“Fisher officials, CP Management and Egis Engineering have been coordinating with Seattle City Light to restore power to the building,” building owner Fisher Communications aid in a statement. “Fisher is bringing in electrical generators to restore power to the building, at which time it can further assess the situation. The company is working to restore normal service to its customers as soon as possible.”

Fisher said the electrical fire started at 11:10 p.m. Pacific time Thursday in a garage-level electrical room where Fisher Plaza East receives its power from Seattle City Light. “The cause of the electrical fire remains under investigation, and the sompany is working closely with Seattle City Light and outside experts to determine what caused this incident,” said Fisher.

There are first-person reports from the scene from TechFlash and a blog post from Jeremy from GeoCaching about his visit to the building. Blogger Kyle Mulka is compiling a list of affected sites.

An account on the NANOG mailing list reports that the incident triggered the sprinkler system in an electrical equipment room. As noted in the NANOG report, water damage could complicate recovery efforts

This is the second major outage at Fisher Plaza in the past year. Last June many sites at the building were offline after an electrical event at the building. Fisher Plaza previously had a major outage in 2006 (more details here on that incident). The owner of the building, which also houses the operations of Seattle TV and radio stations, has been attempting to sell Fisher Plaza

The incident is being discussed at Web Hosting Talk and on Twitter.

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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.

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