The show must go on: extreme weather at the ACF

Author: Paul Clark
Posted: 8 Mar 2018 | 10:43

On Wednesday 28th February, Edinburgh and the Central Belt of Scotland saw an unprecedented volume of snow fall in a short space of time. Around late morning that day, the Scottish Transport Minister Humza Yousaf unexpectedly upgraded the extreme weather warning from Amber to Red from 15:00 on 28th February, suggesting widespread damage, travel and power disruption, and a risk to life were likely.

At the Advanced Computing Facility (ACF), where we host the ARCHER service and other high performance computing systems, we experienced some of the most extreme weather and were forced to take a decision to close the site to ensure the safety of our staff. It is important to note that closing the site was akin to our weekend working policies, where the entire site can be run remotely.

The timeline below shows some of the photographs and detail from last Wednesday to Friday during the worst of the weather.

Throughout the extreme weather, we had a number of processes in place to continue to run the ARCHER service remotely, with staff working from home on Wednesday morning (before the Red Alert was issued) to ensure continuity of service. This continued into Thursday and Friday, with our remote-monitoring alerts system proactively providing wide-ranging information to the team on the specifics of the plant, ARCHER and our other HPC systems.

Periodic site visits to the ACF on each day helped provide a visual inspection, overview of the site and the impact of the weather.

I’m delighted to say that due to our processes and contingency planning, our users will not have seen an impact of the extreme weather.

Author

Paul Clark, Director of High Performance Computing Systems, EPCC