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Is laziness another way to tolerate faults?

Craig Lawrence


CL mar 21

Following on from my short article on LinkedIn about the challenging weather and power situation to hit Texas in February 2021, more details have surfaced about the ability of the power companies in the state to deliver power to their customers.  Residents of Texas may already have experienced this first hand, and yet there may be lessons for all of us and especially the shape and form of the power market itself in the 1845 state.

This debacle appears to have claimed the head of the Texas mayor, allegedly saying that residents were “lazy.”  Lazy?  There’s no way you’re getting me in a swimming pool either at that temperature.

Stories of families trying to stay warm by running their cars in the garage all night long, or lighting bare fires inside their homes have certainly not resulted in happy families.  It’s been quite a tragic tale.

The power or energy market has been widely reported as being somewhat murky.  Texas certainly has its differences to the rest of the US.  While the retail consumer market has veneer of consumer choice about it, the underlying wholesale market from which all consumer providers must buy their power, is less clear.

In theory providers bid on power from the producers in 5 to 15 minute intervals, although details of these trades remains confidential for 30-60 days.  During times of stress equipment can decide to protect itself, and will start to shut itself down. When systems start shutting down then supply falls and wholesale prices will likely spike upwards.

Those who have not purchased enough forward contracts can get left high and dry.  Wholesale Megawatt prices went from 40 to 9000 US dollars at one point.  So it’s no wonder at least one company could not tolerate that level of financial stress, and has now filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection.

Now with all of this in mind, imagine if you can this scenario: NonStop Systems are deliberately affected by conditions that eventually brought Texas to a grinding halt. No replication was in place so no processing could continue – Fault tolerant, yes to a degree. Disaster tolerant, no.

In the NonStop world, downtime is such a foreign concept to us, that when events like this happen, we roll our eyes in disbelief.  There is yet a world of nonbelievers still to convert to NonStop.