Air conditioning failure takes out Florida state computers

An air conditioning breakdown forced a shut-down of government computers in Florida earlier this week, amid fears that overheating could permanently damage datacentre servers.

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An air conditioning breakdown forced a shut-down of government computers in Florida earlier this week, amid fears that overheating could permanently damage datacentre servers.

The critical air conditioning service has now been restored to a Florida state government datacentre, after staff scrambled to replace a failed chiller with a back-up delivered by police escort from outside the state.

The crisis began on Monday at 5.15pm local time, when a water leak was discovered in cooler at the 1,200-server datacentre that provides computing power to the office of the state governor, the department of revenue and other government agencies.

Florida’s department of management services, which oversees the state’s IT systems, ordered government agencies to shut down their computer systems, because of concerns that the air conditioning breakdown could overheat the datacentre and damage the equipment.

Two 400-ton capacity back-up chillers were shipped in from outside the state, and air conditioning was restored to the datacentre by 2am on Tuesday, a Florida state government spokesperson said.

A 2,000-ton capacity "cooling tower" chiller has now been brought in as a permanent replacement for the failed cooler.

The department of management services has service level agreements with Florida state agencies requiring that computer systems be functioning at a certain level of reliability, but because the downtime was late at night, the agreements were not breached, the spokesperson said.

He confirmed that equipment inside the datacentre was not damaged. The state government is likely to review the incident and consider whether back-up cooling facilities are needed on-site, he added.

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