Christchurch data centres survive earthquake

Backup generators in use as power still cut to city

Data centre operators in the Canterbury region of New Zealand have come through the earthquake largely unscathed.

The 6.3 magnitude earthquake caused widespread damage in Christchurch with a reported death toll of 75. Contractors are working to restore power to the city today.

New Zealand-owned IT services provider Datacom, which also runs operations in Australia and Asia, has reported no damage to its data centre.

Datacom NZ chief operating officer, Steve Matheson, told Computerworld Australia in an email that when the power failed, emergency generators took over and seismic bracing kicked in to prevent damage.

“All service calls from customers are being handled by our support centre in Auckland,” he said. “There is some concern that the public data networks might start failing as uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) become drained over the next few hours.

“To mitigate this risk, we are progressively moving our Cloud customers to other Datacom data centres in New Zealand.”

Matheson also said that none of the facility’s staff were injured and the central city building sustained only superficial damage.

“That said, there is a big clean-up operation ahead of us,” he said. “Our facility currently has no street power and the status of water and sewerage services is unknown.

“At this point it is not clear if we will be able to reoccupy the building today or not.”

Cloud services provider Gen-i, which is owned by Telecom NZ (ASX: TEL), has announced its ICT operations team is monitoring the Christchurch data centre sites closely, with temperature and humidity levels reported to be stable.

“Access to our site in Hereford Street in the city centre is restricted due to personal safety but we are working with clients to maintain services remotely,” said Gen-i Australasia chief executive officer, Chris Quin, in a statement. “Fixed-line voice and data services remain stable and available.

“Any issues are likely to be due to network disruption due to damage, which our field force teams, within clear safety parameters, are working with urgency to resolve.”

Datacraft NZ, which is owned by Dimension Data, was contacted for comment but did not respond at the time of writing.

In related news, telecommunication companies are working to restore services using backup power.

Vodafone NZ announced that its mobile network in the region continues to be fully operational but due to the current demand on telecommunications, there is congestion.

“Many of our sites are currently working on backup power and others are currently off the air due to exhausted backup power sources,” said a spokeswoman in a statement.

TelstraClear, which had 15 staff unaccounted for, has reported that all Christchurch staff have been confirmed as safe.

“We have around 60 of our cabinets running on batteries,” said a spokesman. “The majority of cabinets are either reaching the end of their battery power or have lost battery power.”

Telecom NZ has reported that disruption to landline and mobile services in Christchurch continues, and widespread power outages mean large parts of the network are currently working off backup power.

“Mobile performance has improved as people heed calls to limit non-essential mobile use,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

“Many network sites are working on backup power and this backup power is limited as it is reliant on generators and batteries, so prolonged mains power issues will mean more sites are likely to go down over night as back-up batteries and generators run down.”

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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Tags data centresData CenterDatacomgen-iTelecom NZchristchurch earthquakeNZ earthquakeDatacraft NZ

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