News flash: widespread power outage hits Sydney CBD, Anchor hosting operations unaffected

Sydney suffered a nasty power outage in the CBD on Monday, which according to reports affected tens of thousands of homes and businesses. Curiously, some traffic lights on George street were blacked out while others just a block or two away were working fine. From a technical standpoint, a measure of diversity like that is probably a good thing. Rather than having vast areas with unmanaged traffic flow, police could be deployed where necessary, with the knowledge that vehicles could move a meaningful distance before getting stopped at the next set of blacked-out lights.

A friend of one staffer at Anchor was expected to be staying back late last night babysitting the systems in their office that would take some time to come online. Meanwhile over at Anchor’s datacentre, things were humming along nicely without a blip. Globalswitch, our infrastructure provider, has multiple diverse power feeds to cover all equipment, along with redundant power and cooling capacity. In the event of a catastrophic supply failure, diesel generators are on standby to keep things running.

The Anchor NoC was also unaffected; we’ve got big EVA batteries to tide us over. Sure, they’re no competition to a GN drive, but our power requirements are somewhat more modest than a ‘004 Nadleeh in Trans-Am mode, so it’s not really an issue (don’t believe any vendor who tries to tell you otherwise, crunch your numbers first!).

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While we’re on the topic of backup power, it seems the CBD’s emergency warning systems don’t have backup power either. I’m not interested in making a call as to whether they should or shouldn’t have backup power, but from a public perspective it sure doesn’t look good on a service that’s meant to function in an emergency.

When deploying an “important” system, an appropriate level of consideration needs to be given to how you’re going to keep that system running; a point that we see missed all too often. Expecting a system to work continuously without fail is … well, doomed to fail, if you don’t have the corresponding redundant systems and fault rectification capabilities in place – standard on all Anchor web hosting, naturally. 🙂

I’m just happy that power at my house wasn’t affected – I had a lot of interesting browser tabs open, y’know.

“Mr Rees has told Parliament the shutdown of the three other power cables went to plan and 99.4 per cent of Sydney’s public transport services ran on time.”

Huh. Reliability went up as a result of the outage, eh.