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UK heatwave knocks tech giants’ data centres offline in London

heatwave data centre
EEMSHAVEN, NETHERLANDS - MAY 5, 2020: Exterior of Google data center, location Eemshaven Netherlands

Data centres owned by US tech giants faced outages in London yesterday due to the record-breaking heatwave that saw parts of the country reach more than 40C.

Among the outages was a Google Cloud data centre in London, which experienced a “cooling-related failure” according to an update on the Alphabet Inc unit’s status page.

The outage from Google’s London centre, according to the company, affected customers in the US/Pacific region for several hours.

Also citing a cooling problem was US software giant Oracle, which also has a London-based cloud data centre. The company reported the outage was affecting services in the US due to “unreasonable temperatures” damaging its cloud and networking equipment at its facility in South London.

Data centre operators are well aware of the importance of keeping equipment cool. However, systems struggled in the unprecedented heatwave.

Keeping them cool, which is often done using noisy fans, guzzles lots of energy. Tech firms have been trialling different methods to prevent overheating. Microsoft, for example, has trialled deploying data centres in containers on the seafloor.

A Sheffield-based startup, Iceotope, claims to offer a different, cheaper approach to practice. The startup, which raised £30m at the start of July, uses liquid emersion cooling technology.

Iceotope claims its cooling method is not only low-cost but also reduces the carbon emissions of the IT infrastructure sector.