The Reason You Need Seismic Racks In Your Data Centers

If you are setting up a data center in a seismic active area, you will need various key components. This article explains why seismic racks are of key importance for your setup. 

If you are planning to construct a data center, you must consider the impact a natural disaster could have on your operations. This includes a seismic event such as an earthquake. There are countless locations around the United States where earthquakes are a common issue. For instance, if you are setting up a data center in California, the impact of seismic events will be a vital consideration. 

It is essential that the risk of damage to equipment during an earthquake is minimised. This will be particularly relevant with data centers that must continue to operate through an earthquake and can not afford to go offline. 

There are numerous products on the market today that will allow you to protect key equipment that is part of your data center. This includes seismic racks. 

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What Are Seismic Racks? 

Seismic racks are a key way to protect various IT systems from seismic shifts and the threat of an earthquake. Parts that must be protected include servers, cables and switches. Using racks, it is possible to significantly reduce the level of motion that occurs during a quake, limiting the strain on network connections as well as cables. 

Racks are one piece of equipment along with cabinets and braces that can be used to secure a data center. These must be compliant with the latest standards. 

According to the Data Center Frontier, it is possible for manufacturers to establish racks are safe in three ways. This includes: 

  • Shaker table testing – products are physically tested using simulations of the movements during an earthquake. 
  • Experience data – show that products perform correctly during a seismic event 
  • Design and analysis ratings – ratings show whether racks are compliant including the Risk Category as well as the component importance factor. 

Choosing The Right Seismic Racks 

If you are planning a building development in a seismic area, there are specific building codes and installation requirements that must be followed. This ensures the safety of people and equipment. As such, any seismic rack products installed will also need to comply with stringent guidelines. 

According to the International Building Code (IBC) structures must be designed to ensure that they have a low likelihood of collapsing if a seismic event does occur. 

This also takes into account the ASCE 7, minimum design loads for buildings and other structures. This was developed by the American Society of Civil Engineers. It provides guidelines to ensure that nonstructural components will not slide or overturn during an earthquake. 

It’s worth noting that if you are developing a data center in California, then there are unique codes that must be adhered to. This includes the California Building Code (CBC) which covers the criteria from IBC while also adjusting requirements to include the laws of the state. 

Which Servers Must Continue To Operate Through A Seismic Event? 

There are certain servers that must continue to operate through a seismic event according to the IBC. Buildings are ranked in four risk categories. The highest risk category is IV and includes:

  • Hospitals
  • Police stations
  • National defense buildings 
  • Aviation control towers

It is absolutely critical for hospitals to remain operational when a disaster such as an earthquake does occur. As such, all data systems need to be highly available. They should be accessible by healthcare practitioners who will require key patient information without delay. 

For a hospital data center to remain seismic compliant, there must be sufficient levels of earthquake safe guards. This does include the use of seismic racks for data centers. 

In certain cases, hospitals may use external locations for their technology infrastructure that stores information. Buildings like this that use external locations will need to make sure that the data centers are either outside seismic hazard zones or are seismically hardened. If they are within seismic hazard zones, then you will need to make sure that they do use the correct equipment to keep servers safe including seismic racks. 

Many hospitality companies now use third party hosts and some colocation providers. The data center companies will be more attractive to hospital decision makers if they are compliant with the seismic safety act and various other forms of healthcare compliance. 

Requirements for seismic hardening of data centers has been in effect since January 1, 2020. As such, a data center should already be using the correct equipment to protect data including custom seismic racks. 

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