[Gllug] london hackspace news / Cheap 2nd hand rackmount servers

David L Neil GLLUG at GetAroundToIt.co.uk
Wed Apr 6 02:35:09 UTC 2011

On 04/06/2011 11:36 AM, John Edwards wrote:
> On Wed, Apr 06, 2011 at 12:02:03AM +0100, JLMS wrote:
>> On 2 April 2011 12:34, tid<td at bloogaloo.co.uk>  wrote:
> <snip>
>>> I've always wondered why more companies don't see Telehouse
>>> as 'risky' given it's positioning in regards to london's flood maps.
>>> http://www.flickr.com/photos/finkangel/1932692179/

>>> I guess it falls under 'acceptable risk' for most of the clients I've
>>> dealt with. One large US newspaper conglomerate certainly felt
>>> that a datacenter in Exeter was less of a risk.
> But risk to what?

to the most likely, or any of the likely possible service interruptions, 
both general and peculiar to that location...
(easier to say "anything and everything")

> Most hardware is not that expensive compared to the data and service.
> The data should have offsite backups, and so much of the UK's Internet
> infrastructure goes through London that the service is probably going
> to be seriously effected where ever you are.

=is that correct? Do all connections to Scandinavia, W.Europe, the 
Channel Islands, Ireland, trans-Atlantic route through London?

=looking at the schematic for BT's fiber project's national connections 
had me worried, with numbers like "three" - thus a single failure would 
increase loads from one-third to half of UK demand, by definition...

> And Exeter is also on river, near a flood plain. It was last flooded
> in 1960, and came close in 2000:
> 	http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/news/121484.aspx?page=7&month=7&year=2010
> You could stick the data centre up on the hill, but if your transport,
> power and data links still go through flooded areas then you are going
> to get problems.

a valid point: see flooding in Brisbane (Australia) some months back. 
This was an issue that affected power and phones for many people who 
were outside of any expectation of the flood-zone, as the telcos and 
power company de-energised in order to avoid short-circuit damage.

Interestingly in Christchurch (New Zealand, earthquakes that rivalled 
the one that flattened Port-o-Prince, Haiti) the (buried) telephone 
network largely held together quite creditably (which is more than can 
be said for water and sewerage). Cell sites stopped if power was 
discontinued and the gen-set wasn't kept topped-up with fuel. Direct 
damage took its toll, as you would expect.

Sadly if one's office has no running water, a working Internet is no 
real advantage! (by demand: Ministry of Elfin Safety and minions of 

A number of the New Zealand OSS/LUG discussion lists have been alive 
with discussions of backup and restore strategies, as a direct result of 
these experiences. It is heart-breaking to read of companies that cannot 
even re-start from home because their servers (and any backups) are all 
in condemned buildings or others that are (still!) inaccessible (by law) 
in the CBD...

>> When was the last time that part of London flooded?
> 1928 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1928_Thames_flood
>> The physical barriers in place are more than adequate for the short
>> and medium term.

Sadly this reads as "wishful thinking". The events that I used as 
examples above were all as unplanned as they were unexpected. I'm not 
going to argue man-man climate change and whether you subscribe or 
oppose, it doesn't alter the fact that the tropical cyclone and flooding 
events in Queensland are outside of 100-year risk planning, and the 
earthquakes in Christchurch took place on hitherto 
unknown/under-assessed fault lines and at previously non-experienced 
(shallow) depths. In short any and every statistical analysis would have 
put them in the let's-not-worry/we'll-never-find-the-money departments.

The latter sentence is one the Japanese could (and did) use in relation 
to the sea-wall tsunami defences at Sendai. Any number of videos exist 
showing how last month's tsunami simply rolled straight over the top 
like it wasn't there. Similarly at another location (apologies, have 
forgotten the name of the town) there was a 'gate' system in place, 
designed to protect their harbor, but the automated system failed. 
Emergency workers attempting to get out there and manually engage the 
system both failed and died in the attempt.

> There was an exercise only last month:
> 	http://www.exercisewatermark.co.uk/
> 	http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/mar/07/flood-catastrophe-exercise-watermark-emergency
> Also I suspect that London being the capital, financial centre, and
> largest city, is going to mean that it gets more investment in flood
> protection than anywhere else.

This is a politician-style statement - it is comparative. Unfortunately 
the only comparative that concerns 'Mother Nature' is whether the London 
defences are higher and stronger (assuming the gates deploy in time) 
than anything she cares to throw at them - not whether the defences in 
her sights are any better/worse than somewhere else!

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