Generator Catches Fire, Causes Lengthy Data Center Outage at WebNX

The exterior of ther WebNX information heart in Ogden, Utah. (Image: Google Maps)

An emergency generator caught fireplace at an information heart in Ogden, Utah over the Easter weekend, inflicting the total shutdown of the information heart and prolonged outages for purchasers. The incident at a WebNX facility comes a month after a extra critical fireplace that destroyed a complete OVH information heart in Strasbourg, France.

Dedicated server internet hosting agency WebNX says a backup generator skilled a “catastrophic failure” Sunday afternoon, and fireplace officers opted to chop energy to the whole constructing. The firm says a small variety of servers might have suffered water harm as emergency crews battled the generator fireplace.

“Sunday afternoon the town energy was disrupted and, as designed, our backup turbines routinely switched on,” the corporate mentioned. “However, throughout that transition, considered one of our backup turbines that had been just lately examined and benchmarked particularly for this example skilled a catastrophic failure, caught fireplace, and in consequence initiated the fireplace suppression protocol.

“Customers servers in considered one of our fundamental bays have been uncovered to water and attainable harm might have occurred,” WebNX added. “No fireplace harm was inflicted on buyer servers. The majority of {hardware} within the entirety of our information heart was spared, however there are machines that have to be inspected for water harm, and probably rebuilt.”

WebNX has been offering common buyer updates by its Facebook page, and mentioned it’s nonetheless engaged on restoring full energy and restarting buyer servers. As of noon Wednesday, threads on hosting forums point out that some clients are reporting that their companies stay offline.

The firm’s roots date to the early Internet BBS days, and it launched its website hosting operation in 1999. The firm operates information facilities in Downtown Los Angeles and in Ogden, the place it has a 100,000 sq. foot information heart.

Fire Risk and Lessons for the Data Center Industry

The incident, which was first reported by The Register, comes a month after an OVH data center was destroyed by fire, with a second information heart on the campus in the end being shuttered resulting from harm from the fireplace.

The March 9 occasion in France additionally has brought about prolonged downtime for purchasers, as fireplace officers turned off for the whole four-building campus. Once the location was secured, OVH started a cleanup effort with plans to revive service at the remaining three information facilities.

Fires that eat a complete information heart constructing are uncommon because of the business’s normal use of data center fire suppression technology, which is designed to detect smoke after which deploy suppressants (both water or chemical brokers) to extinguish the fireplace and comprise the harm to a small space.

But the WebNX occasion will doubtless intensify the information heart business’s efforts to re-evaluate assumptions about fireplace safety within the wake of the fireplace at OVH. On this entrance, two latest columns are value noting:

  • In Learning From the OVHcloud Data Center Fire, Andy Lawrence of The Uptime Institute says there have been 25 information heart fires in latest business historical past, together with 11 which haven’t been publicly reported.  Lawrence critiques the identified particulars from the OVH occasion and highlights some design and operational points for different information heart suppliers to contemplate.
  • In Give OVH a Break and Use the Data Center Fire as A Teachable Moment,  Dennis Cronin of DCIN (the Data Center Incident Reporting Network) writes that the OVH incident “shouldn’t be assumed distinctive to OVH. Everyone within the international information heart business has one thing to be taught from this catastrophe and possibly many issues to be taught. This consists of purchasers, assist distributors, designers, contractors, and employees. It will probably be a tragedy if the details and the teachings discovered are restricted to a small unique group and never shared with the information heart business.”


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