We call it “five 9s” in the data center business, but that’s not any kind of secret code. At Equinix, it’s a bit of an obsession.
Five 9s refers to a statistic that’s commonly cited at Equinix, which is our global average uptime of 99.999% or greater. In laymen’s terms, that means we keep the power on, always. In non-layman’s terms, it means the average downtime for each of our data centers – all 100-plus facilities, each operating 24 hours a day – is a mere 5 minutes and 15 seconds per year. And the reality is that many of our facilities do better than that.
What’s that fifth nine worth? Well, data center companies with only four nines must endure a cold sweat-worthy 52 minutes and 35 seconds of downtime a year.
To our customers, that kind of difference can make or break their businesses. Ultimately, we’re obsessed with uptime at Equinix because we know this is about a lot more than electricity. The kind of global organizations that place their trust in us need to know their services will always be available, their mission-critical applications will always be running, and when they really need to lean on their IT, it will be there, no matter what.
That kind of confidence is essential, and it can also be a major business advantage. Five 9s high availability is what our customers expect from us, it’s what we promise to deliver, and it’s at the center of our global reputation for reliability.
Occasionally, this commitment is challenged by circumstances beyond anyone’s control, such as severe weather. But we’ve shown we’re equipped to deal with even the worst situations.
What are some of our secrets?
- Never-Quit Dedication: Superstorm Sandy caused massive outages on the U.S. East Coast, and other data center providers went down. But Equinix experienced almost zero downtime, thanks in part to employees who slept at our facilities and worked 72-hour shifts.
- Mega-Redundancy: If there’s a power failure, customer loads revert to our Uninterruptible Power Supply, or UPS systems. The systems are supported first by backup batteries, until our backup generators kick in – usually in about 30 to 45 seconds. The generators then handle the power load until utility power is restored. These backup generators operate at “N plus 1” redundancy, meaning there’s at least one backup to the backup ready to go. The generators are also tested twice monthly under full load condition to avoid “wet stacking,” which is when carbon buildup inside the diesel exhaust keeps the generators from running.
- Fuel for Days: We have enough diesel fuel on site to keep our backup generators going for one to two days, depending on the data center, and we’ll truck in more if we need it. During Superstorm Sandy, fuel levels at the affected sites never fell below 50%.
So “five 9s” isn’t a secret code, but there are some secrets to achieving it. It’s about hard work, commitment and a state-of-the-art operation, and it will always be an Equinix priority.
To learn more about Equinix’s operational reliability, click here.