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Climate Change Threatens Cloud Stability

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Buckling roads and severely overheated people weren’t the only casualties resulting from the epic heat wave that struck the UK and the rest of Europe in July of this year. At least two data centers, operated by Google and Oracle , went offline as the thermometer hit an all-time high of 104.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

For now, these failures are relatively isolated incidences. Today’s data centers are built for extreme resilience and most of them can withstand harsh conditions reasonably well. However, as climate change accelerates, and extreme events occur more frequently — from hurricanes and floods to soaring temperatures and water shortages — resiliency concerns are growing.

“We hear much more about what data center operators are doing to help mitigate climate change rather than what they are doing to deal with the risk,” states Ron Vokoun, director of Critical Facilities for OAC, a design and construction management firm that specializes in building data centers. Yet things are changing. “People are realizing that 500-year storms now occur annually.”

Fixing things won’t be easy, says Paul Barford, a professor of computer science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “There has not been enough time spent thinking and studying the long-term effects of climate […]

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