Our Session with JDCC at DatacenterDynamics

Our session with Atsushi Yamanaka of Japan Data Center Council (JDCC) on the impacts of the major Japanese quake in March on data centers drew about 100 people. Unfortunately, the presentation is not available online, because it contains some sensitive information and data. The approved version will be available soon on JDCC’s home page.

After my introduction, Yamanaka gave a good overview of the impacts of the quake on Japan’s data centers. According to Yevgeniy Sverdlik of DatacenterDynamics, it seems the non-Japanese-speaking crowd is hungry for the information in English. So this was a timely session for US data center operators. By the way, Yevgeniy wrote a nice article on the session. He also interviewed Yamanaka and produced a video on it.

Atsushi Yamanaka

Yamanaka explained some of the details of the quake, which in the US media appeared to have swallowed all of Japan and all of its data centers. Most (72%) of the data centers in Japan are concentrated in the Tokyo metropolitan area, and the rest (19%) are mostly in the Osaka metropolitan area. Tokyo is about 220 miles away from the epicenter, and there are no major data centers in the epicenter area.

Well, actually, the shaking was pretty bad in Tokyo, and Yamanaka’s video clip showed how bad it was and how long it lasted. In spite of that, there were very few problems with data centers in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Yamanaka attributed this to Japan’s strict building code, and many of the newer data centers are constructed to even more stringent earthquake-resistance requirements. Much of the equipment is bolted to the floor, and that helped quite a lot.

 
 
Monitoring Physical Threats in the Data Center

The US media reported that the Japanese people were very calm in the presence of the major quake. Tokyo had many small and medium shakings and is no stranger to earthquakes. There is a high probability that the area will have a big one in the next 2 to 30 years. Businesses have been getting ready for it and regularly conducting training to cope with it. Yamanaka thought that contributed to the calmness.

One of the problems he and other JDCC members are fighting now is a shortage of power. The quake and following tsunami shut down several nuclear power reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, decreasing capacity. As of July 1, a law mandates a 15% power consumption cut for businesses that use 500 kW or more. JDCC negotiated with the government to exempt data centers from this requirement. Now they have won the exemption but cannot exceed last year’s consumption—even though they have more customers to support this year. After the quake, many businesses are moving their servers from their own premises to colos. But that does not give them an excuse to increase their power consumption.

Overall, Yamanaka presented a lot of useful information for us in the San Francisco Bay Area, where we have a high probability of a big one in the next 20 to 30 years. He is quite knowledgeable about data center planning, design, and operations, and he and I had a good meeting over lunch with Mukesh Khattar to exchange information on data centers.

Zen Kishimoto

About Zen Kishimoto

Seasoned research and technology executive with various functional expertise, including roles in analyst, writer, CTO, VP Engineering, general management, sales, and marketing in diverse high-tech and cleantech industry segments, including software, mobile embedded systems, Web technologies, and networking. Current focus and expertise are in the area of the IT application to energy, such as smart grid, green IT, building/data center energy efficiency, and cloud computing.

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