Customers ditch Orcon after datacentre fails

Power outage took a catastrophic turn for customers when back-up power failed

Customers say they will vote with their feet and pull out of Orcon’s datacentre on Auckland’s North Shore following a major outage last Monday.

Andrew Thompson, of Auckland-based software developer TVD, says his company has had enough after the outage. Slamming the redundancy arrangements as “pathetic” and questioning why there is only a single power feed to the Northcote datacentre, Thompson says his company lost tens of thousands of dollars as a result of the failure.

Citing heat problems in the facility, as well a total lack of communication from Orcon, Thompson says TVD will move out of the datacentre as it can’t afford the risk to its business that would result from its remaining there.

“Orcon may be a good ISP, but they’re bad datacentre managers,” Thompson says.

Another customer pulling out of the facility is hosting company Nucleus. Managing director Warren Sanders says Monday’s outage is the second major problem this year. The datacentre overheated in January and two of his company’s servers shut down as a result.

“We’re voting with our feet,” Sanders says. “The latest outage shouldn’t have happened.”

A truck carrying concrete hit a pole carrying an 11,000-volt line feeding the Vector Northcote Telehousing Centre, cutting power at 5.30 am.

Vector spokeswoman Philippa White says mains power was restored four hours later, with electricity being restored in stages to the racks in the datacentre during the day.

However, the outage took a catastrophic turn for customers when back-up power failed soon after the crash. Although Orcon’s general manager of regulatory and industry affairs told Computerworld last week that there was only “momentary disruption” for customers, the ISP’s managing director Seeby Woodhouse, says “some other piece of the puzzle” failed after running on back-up power for around two hours.

The failure wasn’t caused by the back-up generator overheating, according to Woodhouse, who adds that power was out for seven hours in total at the datacentre.

Contradicting Woodhouse, Vector’s White confirms that the generator failed on Monday, but didn’t state the cause.

Asked if Orcon would compensate customers for the outage, Woodhouse says the ISP will consider such requests on their merits. Vector’s White would only refer to commercially sensitive contracts when asked if customers would be compensated.

Another company considering its position is Woosh, which is is also housed in the facility and suffered problems throughout Monday. Woosh chief executive Kevin Wiley sent an email to customers apologising for the outage, which, he says, lasted until early Monday afternoon.

Wiley says Woosh doesn’t currently enjoy full redundancy for its systems, but will make sure it does from now on. He says the company is looking at whether or not to move out of the facility, but would like to know whether the site’s redundancy arrangements are checked regularly.

Asked if such tests take place, White says Vector has a “comprehensive maintenance programme that involves monthly checks and servicing of the generator.”


Managing Director Seeby Woodhouse says external power at the Northcote datacentre was down for seven hours, but for the majority of that time backup power was working. Internal power at the datacentre was out for a half hour to an hour because of an unexpected failure and power had to be brought back gradually.

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