Normally, New Jersey and Manhattan datacenters don’t have to worry about floods, but Hurricane Sandy quickly overwhelmed many major providers like Internap and Peer 1 who provide service across the country. While most of their electronics were relatively safe from the torrential rains and high winds, water will – given time and opportunity – get into everything, and thousands of buildings in the area experienced severe flooding in basements and even ground-floor spaces. “Surely they don’t keep their electronics down in the basement!” I can hear you exclaim, and they don’t, but what is down there are generators and fuel pumps for those generators, because that’s where most buildings put their big, noisy mechanical equipment. Power outages don’t stop big datacenters – they’re designed to last for hours, even days without power – but those generators need fuel and air. When they are under 5 feet of water, both are going to be in short supply.
What this means for you:
When doing your disaster preparedness and continuity planning (you do have a DR/BC Plan, right?) you need to assess all vendors that provide services you would consider critical to your core business processes, particularly the ones that service your customers, such as website or application hosts, or even your own employees such as outsourced payroll services. If you are using providers that have weak, or even incomplete DR/BC plans of their own, you may want to change providers, or, at minimum, compartmentalize your own business processes so that your company isn’t completely crippled by a weak point in your service supply chain.
Image courtesy of “winnond” / FreeDigitalPhotos.net