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Japanese Data Centers and Connectivity after the Earthquake

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Posted on June 29th, 2011 by Victoria Pal in Tech

Japan earthquake power outage mapSome time needed to pass before we can publish this post. With an event so devastating, it didn’t feel right blogging about technical difficulties in Japan. With some delay, I would like to summarize what’s been happening with key communication across Japan.

It is of the utmost importance for people and the government that the data centers remain operational at all times. In any society, such disasters cause panic. In times of need, people reach out to relatives and friends. Communications play essential role in keeping society’s integrity and morale as high as possible. With data centers being at the heart of keeping the country connected, it is vital that they remain fully operational at all times.

It seems people from all over the world relying on Japanese Data Centers have also grown worried about server status and performance. You can see a sudden spike in search volume in March.

According to early reports, data centers continued to run. There was no structural damage to major data centers in Tokyo. Some had to switch to backup power, but they continued to operate. Following blackouts forced data centers to run on backup generators, cutting fuel reserves short. The biggest problem at this point is supplying fuel for the backup generators. Data Centers are designed to run at least 72 hours on backup generators. Most of the centers exceed the requirements; however 10 days of continuous outages can drain the reserves.

Equinix and KHV remained fully operational. Equinix’s two data centers in Japan had no fuel shortages and KHV’s center remained operational thanks to its larger storage facilities and independent water supply. KHV’s center, proved to be one of the safest building during the earthquake. Inside the building, the earthquake felt like 4.0 instead of 8.9. KVH’s newest center was built to withstand the worst possible earthquakes. This allowed it to remain fully operational the whole time.

Unfortunately, 5 out of 20 submarine cable lines suffered damage. Underwater systems were able to reroute around affected segments onto redundant links and avoid major outages. At that point, Japanese Wi-Fi providers reached out, sharing Internet connectivity for free. A major ISP rerouted and is still sharing the network load in order to prevent major network outage.

Our monitoring center in Tokyo remains intact and fully functional. Everyone can continue to perform network availability reports from and to Japan.

Victoria Pal

Doesn't like queuing (particularly at Wimbledon). Likes travelling, tennis and reading. Loves working as a Project Manager at WebSitePulse.

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