How Vibration Control in Data Centers Can Protect Our Modern Lives

Data Centers have become vital to our always connected lives but are extremely vulnerable during seismic events. Learn how vibration control through a base isolation system can significantly reduce this risk.

The Internet of Things

Living In An Always Connected World

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t give too much thought about how all the technology around you actually works. You go about your daily life messaging, scrolling social media, shopping online or in-store with credit cards, and even sending emails to friends, family and coworkers around the world – all without a second thought.

The truth is, in order for all of this technology to work seamlessly, massive amounts of data needs to be transferred and accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year in what is known as the Internet of things. The IoT has been defined in Recommendation ITU-T Y.2060 (06/2012) as a global infrastructure for the information society, enabling advanced services by interconnecting (physical and virtual) things based on existing and evolving interoperable information and communication technologies. One way to improve the performance of the IoT is to have much of the processing and analytics on the cloud.


What “The Cloud” Really Looks Like

When you hear people talk about how everything is stored on “the cloud,” what they are really talking about, (whether they know it or not) is how all that information is stored on highly secure servers in data centers that can be accessed anywhere and at any time.

Datacenter BuildingSo, where are these data centers located that have all this incredibly important information stored? Maybe you think they are in some remote area or even buried under ground? Or maybe in a super modern high-tech building? The truth is, you probably drive and walk by these data centers every day without even noticing.

Often located in large unmarked buildings, data centers can be located just about anywhere including warehouses, office buildings, or even abandoned malls just to name a few places. Data centers in the United States alone use more than 90 billion kilo-watt hours of electricity a year and are a growing importance to our global economy. There are over 500,000 data centers located around the world and having just one data center go down can cause significant problems not only for the company who owns the data center, but also hundreds of other businesses around the world.


Dangers to Data CentersNorth Ridge Earthquake

Many of the largest data centers in the world are located in seismic areas such as Seattle, Silicon Valley, the Middle East and Japan. While any natural disaster could be disastrous, earthquakes pose a significant risk to data centers. With many delicate components that must remain steady at all times, a shaking ground is the last thing these buildings need. Some of the major damages that can occur from an earthquake striking one of these data centers include:

  • Increment of delays in calculus and storage
  • Errors in the process of Reading / Writing data
  • Corruption of the Data Bases
  • Losing of Information
  • Broken Hard Disks
  • Disconnection of cabling and fibers
  • Extra hours paid in recovering the backups
  • Partial or full shut down of the entire Data Center


Using Base Isolation Systems As A Solution

One solution to keep the building from significant shaking is to install a Taylor-damped base isolation system. Similar to how shock absorbers work on your car when driving over a bumpy road, a base isolation system can absorb the energy from a seismic event as the building “floats” above the ground. By separating the structure from its base, the amount of energy that is transferred to the superstructure during an earthquake is reduced significantly. You can also add fluid viscous dampers to the base isolation system to significantly improve the performance and effectiveness of the isolators.

Base-IsolationTaylor Devices has worked on many base isolation systems that 
incorporate fluid viscous dampers for data centers around the world. From a phone company in Turkey to a hospital in Tennessee, and of course many tech companies throughout the Silicon Valley, Taylor Devices has been able provide solutions to help protect these indispensable buildings. You can learn more about how base isolation systems are used as an effective solution when it comes to earthquake protection by clicking here.

In fact, we are currently working on a project for a new data center being constructed in Northern California. Our fluid viscous dampers will be used to accompany the base isolation system to help achieve even less displacement while not increasing stiffness to the building. By using these two systems together, the building is designed for immediate occupancy if an earthquake does strike. You can learn more about this project here.


Making Smarter Buildings

While there are obvious buildings that need extra protection from seismic events such as hospitals, schools, and police stations, data centers should also be held to the same standard. Even a few damaged data centers after an earthquake can cause major economic and social problems for not only the area hit by the disaster, but also surrounding cities, states and sometimes the entire country. Whether it’s ensuring businesses can to continue to operate to something as simple as letting loved ones know you are safe over social media, data centers are vital to our growing technological advanced world.


Further Reading

Case Study

31. Study of Seismic Isolation Systems for Computer Floors

Read the White Paper

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