Digital Realty, DFT: No Interruptions from Virginia Storm

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A facility at the Digital Realty Trust data center campus in Ashburn, Virginia

The two largest wholesale data center operators in the northern Virginia market said their data centers performed flawlessly during last weekend’s electrical storms, maintaining electrical power during grid outages and keeping customers online. Digital Realty Trust (DLR) owns 19 data centers in the region, while DuPont Fabros Technology (DFT) operates seven facilities. Between them, the two companies operate more than 3.3 million square feet of data center space in northern Virginia.

The announcements provide a contrast to the performance of Amazon Web Services, which had a data center that was knocked offline by power outages during the storms that hit northern Virginia Friday night. While the storms were powerful, other leading data center operators were able to keep their facilities online. The announcements also indicated where Amazon’s failures didn’t happen. Amazon is a major tenant for Digital Realty, leasing 448,895 square feet in six properties, including several in northern Virginia. The announcement made it clear that the Amazon outage did not occur in one of Digital Realty’s buildings, as some have speculated.

Digital Realty said its data centers in northern Virginia “operated as designed and engineered to maintain the highest degree of reliability. These uptime metrics are based on a comprehensive evaluation of the Company’s facilities worldwide using standard industry methodology.

“We understand our customers’ need for secure, reliable data centers that enable them to continue to run their mission critical applications in our facilities regardless of the circumstances,” said Dave Caron, Senior Vice President, Portfolio Management for Digital Realty. “We have developed and currently manage over 3.6 million square feet of Turn-Key Flex space globally. With that comes a depth of design and operational expertise that is unmatched in the data center industry. Maintaining this record of reliability is a key component of our long-term commitment to our customers.”

DuPont Fabros said that all seven of its Northern Virginia data centers, totaling 133 megawatts of available critical load capacity, performed without interruption during last week’s severe storms.

“We continue to meet our customers’ needs for extremely high reliability through our superior data center design combined with the advanced in-house expertise of our data center management team,” said Scott Davis, Executive Vice President of Operations. “Reliability for our data centers starts at the utility level. We have systematically designed and built dedicated substations for our data centers which afford us the highest level of utility service availability. Most of our sites never experienced an interruption in utility service, despite the severity of the storms and impact to the surrounding communities.”

Amazon said today that  the repeated failure of multiple generators in a single data center caused last Friday night’s power outage, which led to downtime for Netflix, Instagram and many other popular web sites. The generators in this facility failed to operate properly during two utility outages over a short period Friday evening when the site lost utility power, depleting the emergency power in the uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems. In its incident report, Amazon also provided new detail about its data center infrastructure in the eastern U.S.

“Our US East-1 Region consists of more than 10 datacenters structured into multiple Availability Zones,” Amazon said. “These Availability Zones are in distinct physical locations and are engineered to isolate failure from each other.”

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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