Explosion has data center scrambling, users venting

Explosion in network gear room hit with enough force to move walls

The Planet.com Internet Services hopes to have all 9,000 of its servers in its Houston data center back online later Monday night following a blast that shut down the facility on Saturday afternoon.

When firefighters arrived around 5 p.m., they could see "light smoke" at the Planet data center -- the aftermath of an explosion in a network gear room that hit with enough force to move walls. Sprinklers quickly doused whatever flames erupted from the blast, and the fire was attributed to an electrical problem with a transformer, according to a Houston Fire Department spokeswoman. There were no injuries.

Although the data center says it has power systems that "are designed to run uninterrupted" and a "fully redundant network operations center" with diesel generators, the electrical problem exposed an apparent Achilles' heel in its business continuity planning. Firefighters told data center workers to turn off all the power, according Planet spokeswoman Yvonne Donaldson. That meant the servers, even though they weren't damaged, were offline.

Approximately 6,000 of the affected servers were returned to service early this morning. Another 3,000 were due to return online by tonight, the company said. The Planet staff provided updates on the restoration on its customer forum site, including a message from CEO and Chairman Douglas Erwin, wrote that some servers will be relying on generator power for a week until normal utility connections are restored.

The Planet operates more than 40,000 servers at multiple data centers and hosts more than 3 million Web sites.

While Planet data center staff worked to restore service, users -- many of them small business owners -- wrote of their frustrations over the outage on forum posts. Questions about the data center's backup capabilities were raised, as well. One person, flynnibus, wrote: "You shouldn't put all your money into one bank -- and you shouldn't put all your servers in one DC [data center] if you want to be truly resilient."

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Patrick Thibodeau

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?