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Data Centers in London Experiencing Outages Due to the Heat

Mark Bauer 07/21/2022

A heatwave in London, United Kingdom, has been straining residents, businesses, and emergency services as people do everything they can to stay cool. The city of London came to a standstill on Tuesday as record-breaking heat pounded the city. Train services haulted as the temperatures reached 103° F (65° C). The tempurature spike brought new challenges for city services as emergency services received more than 1,600 requests that day.


Data centers are suffering due to extreme temperatures.

Smaller data centers in dense urban environments are using hosepipes to help keep their data centers cool. Colocation data centers within greater London are in high demand meaning most of them are operating at close to or full capacity. As cooling units ramp up due to the heat, chillers risk failing. To prevent the chillers from "melting down" data center operators are hosing them off and spraying water in the air around them. This process of spraying water on and around the AC units cools the outside ambient air taking some of the load off of the chillers. One issue with this method is the risk of scale build-up on the equipment, water in London is hard water which carries the risk of shortening the life of the equipment. For smaller data centers, an outage can be crucial because many of them have contracts that could be breached in the event of a prolonged outage. 


Cloud data centers are experiencing outages. Oracle released a statement to the New York Times saying "unreasonable temperatures” had affected cloud and networking equipment in its South London facility". Later Google stated, "a cooling-related failure had occurred" and that a "small set" of users would experience usage problems. These outages eventually affected Google's cloud services. WordPress cited the Google outage for knocking out its service in Europe. 


Google's cloud status page has since updated to reflect that the outages were resolved. Oracle's status page is still reporting issues in their south London facility. As temperatures come down across Europe we are left to wonder, what will data center and cloud operators do in the future to prevent this issue?

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