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 newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Patrick Thibodeau

Computerworld
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?