Continued COVID-19 lockdown measures could be detrimental to data centres



Fears over server outages

As the COVID-19 outbreak forces the world to increase its dependence on digital infrastructure, data centre operators fear that the lockdown measures could have damaging effects.

UK data centre operators worry that the longer the world remains on lockdown as a measure to curb the spread of the virus, the more likely it is for there to be an increase in data centre outages.

Government organisations at all levels, already strained prior to the pandemic, are facing new and unprecedented challenges as a result of economic losses, healthcare emergencies, and the implementation of various complex economic support packages, as well as the ability to share information out to the mass.

Emma Fryer

Emma Fryer, Associate Director, Data Centres, techUK told Data Economy that, “In theory, you might expect COVID-19 to impact the likelihood of faults occurring, for instance, if routine maintenance has to be deferred, but because of operational resilience, this is unlikely to result in outages except in the case of a very prolonged and severe lockdown (for instance if supply chains were compromised in the long term).

“So far we have seen no data centre outages attributable to COVID-19 and no outages attributable to restrictions to site access. 


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“Firstly, operators are continuing to carry out critical and statutory maintenance.  Secondly, there is plenty of redundancy in terms of equipment and inventory. 

“Thirdly, when faults occur there are usually different routes to resolution and a single fault should not lead to an outage: operators work very hard to eradicate single points of failure in data centres. In truth, identifying potential risks and managing them is what data centres do.

She added that the potential for faults to escalate under longer-term movement and supply constraints is an issue that techUK is exploring with operators and government at the moment.

Data centre operators grow more concerned about access to sites in the event of a full lockdown in the UK, as the task of limiting infection whilst providing continuity of service becomes an even greater challenge.

techUK asked operators to consider typical faults and whether COVID-19 may make them more likely to occur or harder to resolve.

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