Lightning Hits Google Data Center, Causes Cloud Outages

Storing data in the cloud might help protect your information from local power outages and hardware failures, but cloud service data centers aren't immune from similar problems . . . as Google learned last week. A series of four lightning strikes on the local power grid knocked out power to the Google Compute Engine (GCE) data center in St. Ghislain, Belgium, leading to a permanent loss of a small amount of recently stored data.

The lightning strikes that occurred on August 13 caused a "brief loss of power" to data storage systems serving Google Compute Engine customers in western Europe, according to a status report on the company's Cloud Platform Web site. Although backup power quickly came on, some recently written data that was more susceptible to power outages was permanently lost, Google said.

Google engineers were able to recover some lost data in the hours and days following the storm. However, information from "a very small number of disks" could not be restored. Google said the lost data amounted to "less than 0.000001 percent" of the space on allocated persistent disks in the region, although it's not clear how much actual data that entailed.

Working To Improve 'Contributory Factors'

"This outage is wholly Google's responsibility," the company said in its latest update on the Google Cloud Status page. "However, we would like to take this opportunity to highlight an important reminder for our customers: GCE instances and persistent disks within a zone exist in a single Google data center and are therefore unavoidably vulnerable to data center-scale disasters."

To reduce the risk of losing data to such local disasters, customers who need maximum availability should be prepared to switch operations to other Google Compute Engine zones and use snapshots and Google Cloud Storage to ensure "resilient, geographically replicated repositories" for...

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