Primus builds data centre to survive earthquake

Primus Canada has opened a Vancouver data centre designed to withstand the pressures of high customer demands, extreme power consumption and even an earthquake.

The facility includes 2,200 sq. ft. of storage space, with anti-static 12-inch raised floors and storage cabinets that provide 44U space. The idea is to boost the firm’s combined voice and data offerings across the country.

“We were weak on the data products in the west,” said A.J. Byers, Primus Canada’s senior vice-president of business services. “There’s been a ton of interest in the facility . . . we expect the first component (of the data centre) will be filled within 18 months.”

To protect its facility from earthquakes, Primus has purchased special bases from Valencia, Calif.-based WorkSafe Technologies, which uses ball bearings on a platform to give hardware cabinets some flexibility.

“It can shift in the neighbourhood of three or four inches and counter-reacts to the earthquake, and servers can remain up,” Byers said, adding he believes Primus is the first Canadian company to use the WorkSafe product in a facility hosting other customers’ IT infrastructure.

Primus also has data centres in Toronto and Ottawa. Although Ottawa is not considered a hotbed of seismic activity, three Primus customers were affected when their servers in a data centre there were jostled by a small earthquake. “It had been around six to eight years and they had some older equipment,” Byers explained, adding that even the Vancouver facility is equipped for only minor spikes on the Richter scale. “If something takes down the building, it won’t solve the problem.”

The Vancouver data centre occupies most of the floor of a downtown office building. Each of its UPS systems contains up to three modules, each acting as a separate UPS unit, which conditions the input feed to a steady 208 Volts output to the server room. AC units dedicated to each room with dual compressors are designed to allow for maintenance and operation simultaneously.

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