Google loses data at its Belgium data centre as lightning strikes
You can protect yourself against manmade attacks but you are woefully unprepared to face God’s wrath. This came true for the global search giant, Google when its data centre in Belgium was struck by lightning four times in a row.
The lightning strike was so fierce that it wiped data from one of the disks at its Google Compute Engine (GCE) storage system marking it permanently unusable.
In an online statement, Google said that just 0.000001% of disk space was permanently affected.
“Although automatic auxiliary systems restored power quickly, and the storage systems are designed with battery backup, some recently written data was located on storage systems which were more susceptible to power failure from extended or repeated battery drain,” it said.
Google said that some of the affected disks later became recoverable but some hardware at the data center has suffered irreversible data loss.
Google operates GCE service which allows its worldwide customers to store data and run virtual computers in the cloud. Google statement did not give a list of the clients who could have lost the data and how it will recoup their damages.
The company said it would continue to upgrade hardware to improve data retention and improve response procedures for system engineers during future incidents.
Google’s Belgian data center hosting the GCE was struck by lightning four successive times. Experts say that lightning does not need to strike a building in exactly the same spot more than once to cause additional damage.
Justin Gale, project manager for the lightning protection service Orion, said lightning could strike power or telecommunications cables connected to a building at a distance and still cause disruptions.
“The cabling alone can be struck anything up to a kilometre away, bring [the shock] back to the data centre and fuse everything that’s in it,” he said.
And James Wilman, engineering sales director for the data centre consultants Future-Tech, said that though such data centers are designed to withstand lightning strikes via a network of conductive lightning rods, it was not impossible for strikes to get through.
“Everything in the data centre is connected one way or another,” he said. “If you get four large strikes it wouldn’t surprise me that it has affected the facility.”