Substation1

You may have heard about the 700,000+ website and 9,000 servers affected by the supply transformer explosion of "The Planet" data center in Houston, Texas. "The Filipino Engineer" was one of the affected websites making it off line for several days.

A transformer explosion is basically a sign of insulation failure. There are a number of factors affecting insulation failure. These factors include:

  • Incorrect selection
  • Overloading
  • Poor Maintenance
  • High Operating Temperature
  • Lightning or Line Surges
  • and many others

Despite not having known the actual cause of failure of the supply transformer and discounting terrorism, the explosion of "The Planet" supply transformer may have been caused by one of the above causes. Incorrect selection - the load growth was beyond expectation making the transformer to be overloaded, not discounting poor maintenance as the focus may have only been on the IT department, dirt accumulation causing high temperature on the transformer, thus the failure.

Another question however, why did the transformer protection did not function as expected. I suspect that it may have been tinkered with to allow higher loads on the transformer. Why is it then that their engineers did not bother expanding the power supply to accommodate the load growth of the data center? Why have they not installed a redundant normal power supply system?

There will be more questions than answers. The damaged has been done however. Disgruntled customers not able to withstand four(4) days of server shutdown have started packing. There will be more exodus to come in the coming days. Likewise, The Filipino Engineer may be one of them.