How South African data centres have prepared for load-shedding

Eskom was forced to implement stage 6 load-shedding in December, a level not reached before.

Certain municipalities were underprepared, including Johannesburg electricity distributor City Power -which said at the time it had no load-shedding schedule ready for stage 6.

Since then, however, municipalities were reportedly advised to adjust their load-shedding schedules all the way up to stage 8.

Electricity is crucial to nearly every industry in South Africa, but the most affected businesses are data centres.

If data centres lose power, it can have a catastrophic effect on the data of many South African business – especially if their backup systems are not designed for blackouts.

Two of South Africa’s leading providers are Africa Data Centres and Xneelo, and MyBroadband spoke to them about how they ensure their systems always run – no matter what happens with Eskom’s power supply.


Africa Data Centres

Africa Data Centres general manager for South Africa Angus Hay said their systems are designed to operate continuously and effectively, regardless of whether they receive power from the national grid.

“Africa Data Centres offers high availability, high security, carrier-neutral data centres that are concurrently maintainable and designed to operate continuously, with or without mains power,” said Hay.

“Africa Data Centres standard operations include the ability to run for extended periods on generators, and to maintain these systems concurrently and continually at full availability in this configuration.”

Hay said they have ensured that appropriate agreements and procedures are in place to ensure that fuel is continuously available to power its generators during load-shedding.

“Africa Data Centres has also implemented some on-site solar power generation as a renewable addition to the power mix, and to reduce the load on the mains power grid,” said Hay.

He said while this shows their systems are not at risk during load-shedding, it is likely they will receive an influx of customers seeking assistance if high levels of load-shedding are implemented.

“The most likely impact of increased load-shedding will be an increase in the number of customers seeking colocation in these data centres, to mitigate the business risk of power failures at other corporate sites and lower-performance data centres.”

Africa Data Centres overlaid on image of glowing server racks


Xneelo

Xneelo, formerly known as Hetzner, told MyBroadband that data centres have to implement generator systems to ensure they can keep running during load-shedding.

“Should load-shedding increase in regularity, data centre operators will need to focus on generator maintenance,” said Xneelo.

It also said there would be an increased cost in diesel supply.

Xneelo highlighted that increased load-shedding can carry the risk of data centre power outages due to significantly-increased generator run times.

“In Xneelo’s case, this risk is largely mitigated as we run redundant (A&B) power feeds and have significant volumes of diesel stored on the premises,” said Xneelo.

Xneelo said it is able to run for “a number of days” without refueling, thanks to the quantity of its diesel has.

“Should excessive load-shedding become the norm, we will negotiate priority diesel supply with multiple suppliers and conduct frequent diesel supply top-ups,” said Xneelo.

“We’d also increase our generator service frequency, in line with the increased running hours.”


Now read: Eskom warns of load-shedding on Thursday evening

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How South African data centres have prepared for load-shedding