Identifying a true dual power feed at a colocation data center

Data Center

It is impossible to underestimate the importance of choosing a colocation service provider which features a dual power feed.  This is an important feature which ensures companies that there is no downtime due to a loss of power.  The problem is most data centers claim to have a dual power feed even though they may not be receiving two independent power feeds.  There are several configurations colocation providers currently promote as a dual power feed, although they each carry a different level of power availability and risk of failure.


Single feed

A majority of Colocation providers utilize a data center reliant upon a single feed, even though they claim to have dual feeds.  They do this by focusing on having multiple local transformers.  While this looks like there are multiple sources of power, all of the transformers are fed by a single source.  The problem with this set of is there are multiple points of failure with no redundancy.  While there are multiple transformers, they are all fed from the same utility feeder.  As a result, if the feed is lost all of the transformers will go down.  In this situation, the colocation provider normally relies on the power company to handle all of the maintenance, which can result in prolonged downtime.


Single substation

The next set up is a dual feed through a single substation.  This reduces the risk of a single line failure; however there is still a higher risk of prolonged outages because there is only one substation.  It is important to remember they will still rely on the utility company for maintenance.  This is a significant risk because utility companies operate on a run to failure maintenance plan.  Essentially, they cannot afford to do regular preventative maintenance, but rather address issues as they happen.


Dual feed with dual substations

The third set up a colocation provider may have is with dual feeds and dual substations.  This is less common than either a single feed or single substation, because most colocation data centers do not have access to multiple substations.  This provides an additional layer of redundancy at both levels and reduces the chances of a prolonged outage if a single substation or feed fails.  The problem is there is still a single point of failure within the power chain because there is still only one feed running from the throw switch (ATO or MTO) to the utility transformers which connect to the colocation data center.


Fully redundant dual feed

The final option is a colocation data center utilizing two separate substations and dual independent feeds.  What makes this set up fully redundant is the colocation data center brings both substation feeds directly into each transformer.  As a result, the power loads are shared equally through both feeds rather than running through a throw switch in between the substation and transformers.

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Author Bio:

The fully redundant dual feed is the only option which provides a power supply without a primary failure point.  This set up is found only in elite colocation data centers because it is the most expensive to create and maintain.  Additionally, with this configuration the colocation data center staff will take additional responsibilities in terms of maintenance and execution of the throw switch when a substation fails.

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