Technology giants Google and Oracle suffered major power outages after massive heatwaves hit much of the United Kingdom, forcing cooling systems at London data centers to shut down. 

Data centers hold thousands of computers and are the foundation behind hundreds of online services. Since so many computers are processing, a massive amount of heat is generated; therefore, cooling is absolutely necessary. 

Oracle, a huge American database software and technology company, reported overheating issues by stating, “Following unnecessary high temperatures in the UK south (London) region, two cooler units in the data center experienced a failure when they were required to operate above their design limits. As a result, temperatures in the data center began to climb, which caused some systems to shut down as a protective measure.” 

The heatwave was also detrimental for the Google Cloud data center in London. They reported, “There has been a cooling-related failure in one of our buildings.” To prevent damage, machines were shut down, so only a small number of customers were affected. 

Since the data centers are incredibly valuable to customers, they are constructed with plenty of cooling capacity and back-ups. Typically, these large-scale failures do not take place. However, the unprecedented temperatures were a surprise for many. 

Paul Hone of Redcentric, which operates data centers in London, Reading, and Cambridge, said that data centers are designed to withstand hot weather, but the “heatwave’s temperatures would be at the upper end of design expectations for a lot of data center operators.”

Companies such as Microsoft are putting data centers underwater as an experiment to measure reliability and operation. With future data centers potentially being plunged into the ocean, the chances of heat waves affecting them will be minimal. 


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