Data Center Power Featured Articles
NSA Utah Data Center Having Electrical Meltdowns
The National Security Agency (News - Alert) (NSA) has created quite a bit of controversy in the U.S., particularly in recent months. The government agency collects massive amounts of high-profile data on a regular basis – billions of GB worth. And yet a new data center facility in Utah that is meant to house confidential data related to cybersecurity has been the victim of strange electrical surges and meltdowns over the past 14 months.
The bizarre incidents don’t exactly inspire confidence in an agency that is supposed to be managing the most sensitive of information. As a result of the electrical failures, the NSA Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative Data Center at Camp Williams has failed to open this week as scheduled.
In a review of project documents, The Wall Street Journal discovered that 10 explosive meltdowns at the facility over the past 14 months have destroyed nearly $1 million in machinery. And yet, there doesn‘t seem to be a consensus on what exactly is causing the issues. The Army Corps of Engineers, which is in charge of the data center construction, appears to be in conflict with government contractors over what is causing the failures and how to prevent them.
The NSA’s Utah Data Center will span more than one million square feet and be used to store exabytes to zettabytes of data. It will use 65 mw of power – basically enough to power a city of 20,000 people, and will cost more than $1 million per month to operate.
Image via Fox News
What will be stored there is technically classified, yet in April the NSA declared the facility wouldn’t be used to monitor U.S. citizens’ e-mails or illegally eavesdrop on them. However, a Wired magazine report from 2012 states the center would have the ability to process the contents of private e-mails, cellphone calls and online searches and “personal data trails” like parking receipts and travel itineraries.
KlingStubbins is the architectural firm responsible for designing the electrical system in the NSA facility, and it has been referring questions to the Army Corps. Its Tiger Team of experts investigating the problems said in the report that “the contractors' explanations appeared spurious because the incidents' causes were ‘not yet sufficiently understood’ to ensure they wouldn't recur.” The meltdowns were also described as a “flash of lighting inside a two-foot box..
Yet on the record, Norbert Suter, chief of construction operations for the Corps, commented, “The cause of the electrical issues was identified by the team and is currently being corrected by the contractor."
The report goes on to say that the contractors are installing devices to insulate the power system from failures as well as reduce electrical-machinery damage. But that fix will not prevent future failures, according to the project documents.
Ultimately, it appears that construction of the center was fast-tracked, according to The Journal, and corners were cut which led to quality controls in both design and construction being bypassed.
Edited by Rachel Ramsey
Data Center Power Resources
Featured White Papers
This article explores the various monitoring systems typically found within the data center ecosystem and how to navigate getting the required power and environmental information needed to make better decisions within your data center facility.[Read More]
RF Code provides an enterprise class, wire-free sensor solution that is ideal for monitoring in real time the environmental conditions in IT dense areas such as data centers and IT closets.[Read More]
Within enterprise data centers, power used for operating the facility, lighting, running IT loads and cooling is the largest operational expense. Numerous papers and articles have been published by The Green Grid, The Uptime Institute, PG&E, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories and others discussing ways to measure, monitor and increase efficiencies. This paper discusses the effect on efficiency of load balancing across phases in a 3-phase distribution system.[Read More]