Cloud systems hit by Dublin weather

While Dublin might be seen as a good place to shove a server, Amazon and Microsoft might be regretting their choice.

While there are all sorts of tax breaks in Eire, and the weather is cold enough, the Americans have forgotten that the weather was one of the reasons that their forefathers bogged off to the former British colony of Virgina in the first place.

According to  Data Centre Knowledge, a lightning strike has caused power outages at the major cloud computing data hubs for Amazon and Microsoft in Dublin, Ireland. Users of Amazon’s EC2 cloud computing platform, and Microsoft’s BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite) all experienced downtime.

In a statement Amazon said that lightning struck a transformer near its data centre, causing an explosion and fire that knocked out utility service and left it unable to start its generators.

One of the EC2 Availability Zones in its Dublin data centre, which is the company’s primary European hub for its cloud computing platform, died.

One would think that one of the advantages of the Cloud is that if one power transformer died electrical load would be seamlessly picked up by backup generators. But it turned out that there were more seams than a Greek Wedding dress.

Amazon told the local press that the transient electric deviation caused by the explosion was large enough that it propagated to a portion of the phase control system that synchronises the backup generator plant, disabling some of them. Hopefully no one will work out what this means. We ran the explanation through Google and it said “something else broke and automatic systems had to be brought online using humans and lots of hamsters running around in millions of small wheels.”

Microsoft Twittered that one of its European data centre’s had a power problem and this affected access to its BPOS services.

Amazon opened a data center in Dublin in December of 2008 to house the European availablity zones for its EC2 cloud computing services.