Tuesday, October 8, 2013

NSA: No Surge Agency? No Shutdown Agency?

Zoe Schlanger at TPM:
NSA's Power Glitch Center, Utah
The National Security Agency's massive new data-storage center in Utah has been crippled by 10 meltdowns in the past 13 months, halting the agency's computer use in the facility, according to documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal.

Electrical surges described as "a flash of lightning inside a 2-foot box" have destroyed hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of machinery and delayed the opening of the one million square-foot facility, WSJ reported. The cause of the repeated failures is under investigation.

I am reminded of the early days of the Large Hadron Collider: perhaps humankind simply doesn't know, even to this day, how to build large, complex systems that are robust in the face of power problems.

Or perhaps God is not amused by attempts to spy on Her people in their private daily lives... nah. I'll stick with the abovementioned hypothesis until there's hard information to the contrary.


  1. I wrote about this at my place, and it is just shear incompetence. This isn't an unusual project. It is certainly not as involved as a major high-rise office building. This is industrial electrical service with known loads. If they are experiencing surges, they are having transformer problems somewhere.

    I can't believe that they would put an electrical system in a server farm that didn't have surge protection and filtering before it entered the building. That's standard, along with backup generators on site, even for small server farms.

    It's time to start putting some recording VOMs around to find out where the problem is. Real electrical contractors all have them, because some places require them to pass inspections, and they are really handy if weird things are happening.

    1. Bryan, I am astonished that the NSA would let it come to this. As you emphasize, it isn't rocket science; it's standard technology in a familiar setting (nefarious purposes notwithstanding). At least the builders of the LHC had the excuse that fewer than a half dozen such monsters had ever been built, and none as powerful as the LHC. What's the NSA's excuse?



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