Data Center Seismic Considerations


This article about earthquake detection reminded me that Mt. Saint Helens has been in the news recently due to earthquake swarms.  The theory is this is related to the build up of magma in the mountains dome.

I vividly remember how disruptive it was in May of 1980 when Mt. Saint Helens erupted.  We were living in Spokane Washington at the time and for a week if felt like we were living on the surface of the moon due to the volcanic dust that covered everything.

Then on February 28, 2001 there was the Nisqually earthquake.  That quake was no where near as bad as many others but it had a serious impact on data centers in the Puget Sound region.

Thinking about volcanos and earthquakes reminded me how important it is to carefully consider seismic issues with designing data center spaces.  I make it a rule to discuss this issue in depth with my clients and whenever possible include ISO-Base as a component in my designs.

Life Where Technology is an Everyday Tool not a Thing only to be Dreamed of

Today I read a post from Shawn Blanc. He speaks well about our lives today. Here is a bit of what he has to say:

"It took us over a century to realize the changes and impact that the Industrial Revolution was making on our lifestyle, culture, economy, and educational system.

Technology has changed all of that again, but this time it took less than a decade.

Today, if we need advice on a topic, it’s as close as posting a question to Facebook or Twitter. If we don’t know an answer, we can Google it. If we want something, we can buy it from our phones and have it delivered to our house. If we have a moment of down time, our social network timelines guarantee we never have to be bored. And we have the world’s catalog of movies, music, and books available to us from our living room.

Nobody in the history of anything has ever lived like this before. It’s fantastic. Also, it’s a little bit terrifying."

Some years back I, as I am sure we all have, came to a similar mind set. My children came to me wanting some help with their calculus studies. I started to look into their text book to see how much I remembered from back in the dark times (you know the 70's). To my suprise they weren't asking for help understanding the material in the text book, they were looking for help on how to program their calculators do to the problems. In my words to them they didn't need help with calculus they needed help with "calculatorus" and sadly I wasn't a good resouce for them.  At that time I hadn't come to the realization that my days of paper, pencil, and slide rule had passed.  I like to think I have come a long way on the technological highway.

Data Center Cooling, "Thermodynamics is both Simple and Complex"

My father and grandfathers helped me to develop a straight forward way of looking at and then solving any problem that came my way.  I have that same straight forward thought process as the foundation of my consulting practice.

When it comes to cooling in Data Centers and the debate starts up over raised floor versus other options I always use this example.  When you stand in front of the fridge trying to decide between the chocolate and vanilla ice-cream where do you feel the cold first, on your feet or on your face?  Right cold goes down without any help.  So why build or renovate data center space based on a cooling system that has to not only move large amounts of cold air across a distance from the CRAC units but must also try to push it up through a bunch of little holes.  I feel the closer the cold air source is to the front of the servers the better the chance the cold air will get into the intake of the servers efficiently.  I always consider in row refrigerant based cooling as the first option.

Posts Under Consideration

The following are some topics I think are deserving of a post and some discussion.  If there are other topics you might like to see discussed please drop me an email.

Floor Raised or Not

How much power

How much heat




Architects and their teams

Owner advocacy

To sell or to partner