Several customers of Rackspace report being offline for several hours Wednesday night due to power problems at a data center in Dallas. 37signals, which offers a suite of Web-based software for businesses, says all its online applications were down for two hours. Online backup provider Syncplicity says it was also affected, and posted an update from Rackspace:
At approximately 5:00 P.M. CDT, our DFW data center experienced a brief loss of utility power that caused a transfer over to generator as designed. During this transition, some of the chillers did not start up correctly and temperatures within certain areas of the DC began to rise to the 90's. The issue has been isolated and temperatures are decreasing steadily. We are investigating this issue and will provide future updates as they come available.
37signals said Rackspace indicated in a conference call that the issues affected "large portions of their Texas data center." That didn't include the main Rackspace web site, which remained online Wednesday evening.
These early reports suggest the outage was similar to an incident last November in the same Dallas data center in which a traffic accident knocked out utility power in the area. In that incident, the Rackspace Dallas data center switched over to generator power, but two chillers failed to restart, forcing Rackspace to take customer servers offline to protect the equipment as temperatures rose in the data center. 37signals was also affected by an outage in January that prompted it to publicly criticize Rackspace.
Prior to those problems, Rackspace had compiled a track record as one of the most reliable providers in the world, topping the Netcraft monthly performance charts six times in 2006, and three times last year. The Rackspace.com web site did not have a measurable outage from March 2004 through November 2005.
In April Rackspace filed for an IPO that could raise as much as $400 million. The company plans to use some of the revenue from the IPO to fund data center expansion, as it is running short of space in the 144,000 square foot data center in Dallas (actually Grapevine, just north of Dallas). The company is building out the third and final phase of the data center, which is 22,000 square feet and will come online in the fourth quarter of 2008.
Rackspace has a total of 114,749 square feet of technical space in seven data centers in San Antonio, Texas; Grapevine, Texas; Herndon, Virginia; and London.