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December 26, 2022

UK heatwave leaves Google Cloud and Oracle sweating – July 2022 in review

Data centres went into meltdown in July as temperatures soared. Meanwhile regulators tried to get to grips with crypto.

By Matthew Gooding

Last summer high temperatures were playing havoc with tech infrastructure. We continue our look at the year’s news by rewinding to July.

It may seem hard to believe, sitting here on a dreary December morning, but last summer was one of the hottest on record in the UK.

On July 19, temperatures in the South East of England reached 40.3ºC, the highest ever recorded in the UK, triggering data centre outages at cloud providers Google and Oracle.

Data centres melted like ice creams as the UK heatwave struck. (Photo by Jacob Lund/Shutterstock)

Google suffered an eight-hour outage of one of its data centre buildings in host zone “Europe-West2-a” due to cooling-related problems. Meanwhile, Oracle also struggled with an outage related to the UK heatwave, with a subset of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure’s customers experiencing a delay in recovering access to their resources hosted in its UK South (London) region.

“Following unseasonably high temperatures in the UK South (London) region, two cooler units in the data centre experienced a failure when they were required to operate above their design limits,” said Oracle in a statement. The incident took 19 hours to resolve.

The public sector was not immune to the problems, with the largest NHS trust in London being forced to cancel operations and appointments amid IT problems following two data centre outages caused by the soaring temperatures. Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust took three days to get systems fully up and running again.

With extreme temperatures predicted to become more common, data centre operators will need to deal with “increased pressure” on cooling systems said Ross Gray, CEO of IT management provider Cloudsoft.

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“This is particularly important for those organisations that work within highly regulated sectors,” Gray said. “Regulations, such as Digital Operational Resilience (DORA) in the financial sector, mean there can be no amount of downtime, so these firms must be able to cope with future heatwaves and other types of extreme weather.”

UK launches first cryptocurrency regulation

Also in July, the UK Financial Services and Markets Bill (FSMB) was published, and included provision for the regulation of crypto assets and stablecoins for the first time.

Then chancellor Nadhim Zahawi (remember him?) said the legislation will help the government deliver on its “vision for an open, green and technologically advanced financial services sector” that would be globally competitive.

Among the changes in the legislation was a drive to regulate the cryptocurrency market, particularly around the use of so-called stablecoins. This followed the collapse of the Terra USD stablecoin which brought about a widespread crypto crash.

“Our objective is clear: to keep the UK the most open, inclusive, welcoming, competitive, safe, and transparent place to do financial services business, in the world,” Zahawi said in a speech.

It was a busy month for the government on the tech regulation front, with a new bill covering AI regulation also set out. It aims to hand more powers to existing regulators to deal with algorithms and automated systems, rather than setting up a dedicated body to look at issues around AI.

More from July 2022: The zero day trade remains lucrative but risky

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