Sydney companies are taking precautions to ensure their datacentres are safe in the face of a massive dust storm that hit the city on Wednesday in the early hours.
"This storm is carrying red dust, which is not good dust," said
Craig Allen, executive director of Sydney hosting company Virtual.Offis. "It contains iron oxide, which is basically rust. By its
very nature a computer is sucking air through the system and that
means potential problems," he warned, as the tiny, undetectable,
ferrous dust can cause short circuits and other failures inside
"It normally means a new motherboard or components," Allen
To cope with the storm, Virtual.Offis is ensuring that the air
filters which protect its datacentre from dust and other
contaminants are being checked more regularly than usual. "Our
maintenance guys are watching the filters closely today," Allen
explained, adding that the company is also staying in close contact
with the facilities manager of the Pyrmont building in which its
datacentre resides, to ensure it is informed of any dust-related
Overall, however, Allen is relaxed about the dust threat. "We are not overly concerned about it except it makes our
building look dirty," he said.
Another datacentre operator feeling alert but not alarmed about
the dust situation is Aidan Tudehope, Macquarie Telecom's managing
director of Hosting.
"We have not experienced any adverse affects from the dust storm
and don't anticipate any," he told ZDNet.com.au. "That said, reliability
is obviously critical to our customers so we have ... shut-off
external mechanical ventilation systems to prevent dust entering
the environment [and] staff are on heightened alert for any issues
in the facility."
While companies running datacentres seem unworried by the dust storm, other
organisations have experienced dust-related problems. Many sources
have reported a dust-induced power failure at a mine in Broken Hill
resulted in a pair of miners being trapped underground for several