It’s So Hot the Clouds Are Melting

It’s So Hot the Clouds Are Melting
Note: this is just a graphic rendering of a Google server room. We expect the real thing would have Google's logo posted on every floor and ceiling tile as well. (Illustration: Novikov Aleksey, Shutterstock)

If you think your office is stifling even with your lone air conditioner buzzing away hour after hour, think how much worse it is for the always-on server banks during this hot, hot summer.

The Register first reported on the cloud server heat-related failures as a record-breaking heat wave has caused massive havoc with not just civil infrastructure, but also, apparently, computer infrastructure as well.

The heat brought havoc to England’s cloud computing apparatus. Oracle cloud servers were reportedly taken offline Tuesday afternoon and came back Wednesday at around 11 a.m. UTC. Apparently, the company’s London centre failed to keep up with the 40 degrees Celsius temperature, automatically instituting a protective shut down. The report notes that some Oracle Cloud users were delayed in accessing their data hosted on the servers.

Though servers were apparently restored, the service notes “a subset of Oracle Integration Cloud resources continue to experience impact” even going into Wednesday.

Tuesday morning, Google also noted that several of its UK cloud servers were experiencing hiccups, including extra errors, high latencies, and server outages in its europe-west2 server bank, also located in London. Those server outages apparently impact a multitude of Google services other than the regular Google Cloud Storage, including Cloud Machine Learning, Cloud Firestore and Cloud Datastore.

All this was apparently tied to a “cooling related failure” in one of the buildings that hosts the europe-west2 servers. While the company noted that cooling systems were restored and that some services should be back online, there are still lingering issues. Google did say that going into Wednesday people using multiple services would be experiencing blackouts and service interruptions.

But both Oracle and Google said there should not be any further service interruptions for UK users while they try to get all the various programs back up and running.

It’s been noted how unprepared the whole of England has been for a heat wave. Many residential buildings lack any air conditioning. Of course, a building meant to house computer services will have some kind of HVAC system in place, but it seems they weren’t built to withstand those constant 37+ degree temps.

It’s another reminder of just how much of our common, connected infrastructure is not built to handle increasing temperatures brought on in part by climate change. We’ve already seen how intense wildfires have spread all throughout Europe and north Africa, showing up earlier than normal. This past week intense rains washed out New York City subways. In Texas, the multiple massive crypto mining facilities are routinely taking their systems offline so as not to overtax the state’s routinely overburdened grid.