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Sizzling Summer Illustrates Importance of Efficient Cooling Systems

04 February, 2015

Sizzling Summer Illustrates Importance of Efficient Cooling Systems

Australian internet provider iiNet made global headlines this week when its Perth data centre shut down due to sweltering temperatures of over 44 degrees. On Monday January 5 Australia's second-largest internet service provider was forced to close its websites, emails and customer portals when the air conditioning systems at its Perth data centre had a meltdown in the midst of the 44.4 degree temperatures.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology the highest recorded temperature of 44.4C made Monday January 5 the sixth hottest day that the West Australian capital has ever seen. It was also January’s hottest day on record since January 31, 1991 when temperatures soared to 45.8 C at 1.50pm WST.

Mark Dioguardi, iiNet's chief technology officer maintains that the meltdown was caused by a partial failure of the data centre’s mains and backup air-conditioning systems. This led to a forced shutdown of some of iiNet’s major Perth-based data centre servers at 1pm WST.

Dioguardi explains, "Network redundancy plans ensured over 98 percent of our customers' broadband services were unaffected; however, some customers experienced issues connecting to the internet. Webmail and account management systems also operated intermittently during the period. A majority of the issues causing customer impact were resolved at approximately 8pm WST.”

The catastrophe led to iiNet having to close its call centres from 6pm WST in order to focus on resolving customer support systems issues as quickly as possible. While the majority of customers were households and individuals the incident did affect the operations of some businesses and corporations across WA.

Dioguardi has made a public apology to the company’s customers and has confirmed that there will be a full inquiry into the incident. "We are conducting a full investigation into this event and putting systems in place to avoid this happening in the future. iiNet apologises to our customers for any inconvenience caused," he said.

Despite the fact that iiNet is Australia’s second largest internet provider it isn’t safe from the risks of overheated data centre systems. This incident highlights the absolute importance of incorporating efficient cooling systems into any data centre design, particularly in areas which are prone to high outside temperatures. As well as installing reliable and high quality cooling systems data centres should also feature strategic layouts and racking arrangements designed to foster continuous air flow. 

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