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Sunday, June 1, 2008

Explosion at The Planet Datacenter

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An explosion at ThePlanet.com datacenter has provoked the shutdown of thousands of servers and websites worldwide, including Venezuelan Political and News sites Noticiero Digital and Venezolanos en Linea.

According to a person who works there, info posted gathered from DigitalPoint Forum:

This evening at 4:55 in our H1 data center, electrical gear shorted, creating an explosion and fire that knocked down three walls surrounding our electrical equipment room Thankfully, no one was injured. In addition, no customer servers were damaged or lost.

We have just been allowed into the building to physically inspect the damage. Early indications are that the short was in a high-volume wire conduit. We were not allowed to activate our backup generator plan based on instructions from the fire department.

This is a significant outage, impacting approximately 9,000 servers and 7,500 customers. All members of our support team are in, and all vendors who supply us with data center equipment are on site. Our initial assessment, although early, points to being able to have some service restored by mid-afternoon on Sunday. Rest assured we are working around the clock.

We are in the process of communicating with all affected customers. we are planning to post updates every hour via our forum and in our customer portal. Our interactive voice response system is updating customers as well.

There is no impact in any of our other five data centers.

I am sorry that this accident has occurred and apologize for the impact.
Brooke Kyle, Marketing Manager for The Planet said this:

Tonight at 5:45 p.m. here in Houston, a transformer in our H1 data in Houston caught fire, which required us to take down all generators as instructed by the fire department. All servers in the H1 data center are down, as is our ServerCommand customer portal, which are working to move to another data center....
...Our management team and facilities staff are on site evaluating the situation. In our latest assessment, we have determined that networking gear has not been damaged, but we are without power so assessments continue. All disaster recovery systems are in motion, and we have teams already working in the data center.


As you may have already noticed, our forum servers continue to lag due to very heavy load. This is in part to due to the fact that our outage is now being carried on several sites (including Slashdot). Even though we added servers to our forums last night, we are looking at alternatives at this time to provide simple status updates quickly.

We are still working on getting all management systems up, but Legacy EV1 domain customers can access a backup management panel hosted by Tucows at https://manage.opensrs.net. There are some limitations to these backup systems, changes may be restricted if the domain is locked, and use may be intermittent until the servers hosting the main domain management systems in H1 are back online.
Updated June 1st 11:00pm (EST)

As previously committed, I would like to provide an update on where we stand following yesterday's explosion in our H1 data center. First, I would like to extend my sincere thanks for your patience during the past 28 hours. We are acutely aware that uptime is critical to your business, and you have my personal commitment that The Planet team will continue to work around the clock to restore your service.

As you have read, we have begun receiving some of the equipment required to start repairs. While no customer servers have been damaged or lost, we have new information that damage to our H1 data center is worse than initially expected. Three walls of the electrical equipment room on the first floor blew several feet from their original position, and the underground cabling that powers the first floor of H1 was destroyed.

There is some good news, however. We have found a way to get power to Phase 2 (upstairs, second floor) of the data center and to restore network connectivity. We will be powering up the air conditioning system and other necessary equipment within the next few hours. Once these systems are tested, we will begin bringing the 6,000 servers online. It will take four to five hours to get them all running.

We have brought in additional support from Dallas to have more hands and eyes on site to help with any servers that may experience problems. The call center has also brought in double staff to handle the increase in tickets we're expecting. Hopefully by sunrise tomorrow Phase 2 will be well on its way to full production.

Let me next address Phase 1 (first floor) of the data center and the affected 3,000 servers. The news is not as good, and we were not as lucky. The damage there was far more extensive, and we have a bigger challenge that will require a two-step process. For the first step, we have designed a temporary method that we believe will bring power back to those servers sometime tomorrow evening, but the solution will be temporary. We will use a generator to supply power through next weekend when the necessary gear will be delivered to permanently restore normal utility power and our battery backup system. During the upcoming week, we will be working with those customers to resolve issues.

We know this may not be a satisfactory solution for you and your business but at this time, it is the best we can do.

We understand that you will be due service credits based on our Service Level Agreement. We will proactively begin providing those following the restoration of service, which is our number priority, so please bear with us until this has been completed.

I recognize that this is not all good news. I can only assure you we will continue to utilize every means possible to fully restore service.

I plan to have an audio update tomorrow evening.

Until then,

Douglas J. Erwin
Chairman & Chief Executive Officer

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