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Data Center Risk Index Includes Solar Flares


Data Center Risk Index Includes Solar Flares

July 26, 2013

  By Monica Gleberman, Contributing Writer

Data Center downtime could cost a company millions in lost revenue, compensation, customer satisfaction, and retention, ultimately hurting the business’ reputation. Data center owners spend hours upon hours trying to keep their center secure from the latest security threat.

However, what some might not consider is the threat of Mother Nature. Data centers should be worried about malware, downtime, hurricanes, earthquakes, and even floods. The one thing that might not seem apparent, but has become a looming threat is that of solar flares.

A solar flare is a sudden brightening observed over the sun’s surface. Usually after a solar flare is observed a colossal coronal mass ejection (CME) is seem. The flares can travel down to the earth and bring a whole lot of destructive energy with them. So why do data center owners have to start worrying about flares?

Eric Gallant, consultant energy management services at Schneider Electric (News - Alert), said a solar flare could be a very dangerous event. “One serious threat to the reliability of electric power is geomagnetic storms – severe disturbances caused by solar storms in the upper layers of our atmosphere that induce currents in long conductors on the Earth’s surface, such as power lines. These additional currents can overload the electric grid system to trigger voltage collapse or worse, damage a signification number of expensive extra-high voltage transformers.”

Think of it as your house. When there is a storm you have the possibility of losing electricity. This can be due to down wires, flooding, and/or a transformer that is responsible for your neighborhood blows. If this happens, it can take hours to get it fixed. Now imagine the damage and chaos if the electric company lost power. No one would know what to do. So, having it happen to a major data center could be catastrophic.

Although you don’t hear about solar flares occurring and hitting data centers everyday, it would hurt the operators to take a look at their emergency plans and come up with an alternative if their transformers were to become unsafe.

Edited by Rich Steeves
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