Thursday, 3 October 2013

Typhoon Usagi: No Problem for Hong Kong Data Centres

Even as weather forecasters and government officials were warning of a T-10 typhoon last month, data centre operators in Hong Kong were not panicking. They have been through these things before and they know the infrastructure and systems they've put in place can withstand just about anything the weather throws at them.

This latest storm was no exception. It proved to be a largely non-event for Hong Kong, despite the potential for wind gusts in excess of 130 mph. Areas east of Hong Kong were hardest hit by the typhoon.

It turns out that Hong Kong is one of the safest places to build a data centre according to the Cushman & Wakefield real estate firm. Despite a risk index of 16, the standards and regulations that exist for Hong Kong data centres ensure that they can withstand the most severe storms.

Here are the top five things Hong Kong data centres have going for them:

  • Redundancy – During the initial stages of design, data centre architects make a point to design and build multiple systems of redundancy.  This redundancy includes everything from multiple, independent power plants to double glazed windowpanes with anti-blast film.

  • Flood Control – The safest Hong Kong data centres employ a number of measures for flood control. They build on high ground, they raise the floors on which data centre hardware sits, and they build ‘white areas’ to act as a barrier between exterior walls and interior spaces. The entire space of the data centre is designed around flood control.

  • Planning – One thing Hong Kong does very well is plan for natural disasters.  As a standard rule of thumb, builders in that area of the world design and create structures able to withstand a worst-case, once-every-hundred-years scenario. By planning for the absolute worst, they are more than capable of handling the normal.

  • Preparation – In Hong Kong there is generally more than enough time to prepare before the onset of a typhoon. When people are hired for datacentre jobs for example, it is with the understanding they may be pulling some extra duties in the event of a storm.  Many data centres include living facilities and catering services in order to facilitate extra staff being brought in to work throughout the storm.

  • Training – Data centre employees also go through intense training in order to be ready for any storm scenario. Their training includes everything from protecting hardware to piling sandbags against doors and windows.  Data centre workers are like a well-trained army ready to answer any storm threat.


In the end, Typhoon Usagi proved to be nothing to worry about in Hong Kong.  Nevertheless, rest assured that any potential storms in the future are not likely to wipe out the region's data centres.  Buildings, hardware and personnel are all fortified against severe weather and other natural disasters.  To summarise:  that is why Hong Kong is considered one of the safest places in the world to put a new facility.

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