The 2019 hurricane season is here, and it lasts until the end of November. Proactive businesses should take such severe weather into account, especially concerning data. Fortunately, data centers could play an instrumental role in maintaining uptime for you when Mother Nature shows unpredictability.
It's understandable for companies to feel concerned about their operations if they do business in hurricane-prone areas. Business owners tell countless tales of how hurricanes forced them to cease catering to customers while cleaning up the aftermath. Indeed, storms may make it impossible for companies to do business as usual.
Using a data center that's in a hurricane-rated structure at least 150 feet above sea level can ease your mind.
When discussing needs with data center providers, it's smart to explicitly ask how the facilities fared during recent hurricanes or other natural disasters. Strategic site selection proved instrumental when Hurricane Harvey barreled into Houston. Even though that storm brought more than 4 feet of rain, the data centers kept operating.
Skybox Data Centers has a Houston location that got put to the test during Hurricane Harvey. One crucial component of the facility is a roof deck capable of tolerating 190 mile-per-hour winds. Additionally, the data center's site selection team chose to put it in a part of town far enough away from a local reservoir. Customers never experienced downtime during the hurricane due to those measures and others.
Geo-redundancy is another physical aspect of data centers concerning hurricane protection. It refers to choosing a provider with a presence in multiple geographic areas.
If a hurricane hits one region, a data center in another area could take over and keep everything up and running. Enterprise representatives that are assessing geo-redundancy must take several factors into account, including network connectivity, cost and integration. Moreover, they should view geo-redundancy as one part of broader failover planning.
The residents and business owners in the paths of hurricanes know power outages are virtually inevitable. Once the winds kick up, branches and entire trees come down and often land on electrical lines. To return to the example of Hurricane Harvey, it caused outages for more than 10,000 MW of capacity on the electrical grid.
Companies in many industries have contingency plans with specifics about using generators for backup power. The enterprises that applied them during Hurricane Harvey kept operating during the storm and helped others as a result. In one case, a grocery store catered to storm victims who were without power for up to 20 hours, and it was the only one open in the county.
Backup power sources are also instrumental in helping companies stay profitable as they work toward achieving something close to normalcy after a hurricane. For example, a boutique clothing store that has brick-and-mortar and online presences might not sell things through its physical store immediately after a storm. Debris and flooded roads would prevent access to it.
However, if the brand has an online store and the necessary resources to handle things like shipments and customer service queries, it could have orders continuing to flow in despite the challenges brought about by the hurricane.
Data center providers should also consider how it's in their best interests to get ready for natural disasters. One of the scariest things about those events is the associated fury they display, showed through things like torrential rainfall, lightning and wind gusts. Even the most experienced meteorologists are surprised by what hurricanes do as they travel their paths of destruction.
When data center operators confidently assert their hurricane readiness, they communicate to customers that, even when the weather throws curveballs, they have the necessary infrastructure for consistent uptime.
Additionally, spending time and money to prepare for hurricanes enables data center brands to anticipate customer satisfaction and business longevity. The most severe data center outages ultimately make some of the facilities involved go out of business. As such, proactiveness gives protection against that possibility.
Weather experts cannot give guaranteed analyses of the number of hurricanes for a given season or say for sure what damage an existing one will cause. That means it's up to data center providers — and you as a client using them — to exert control over the factors within their power.
Kayla Matthews writes about data centers and big data for several industry publications, including The Data Center Journal, Data Center Frontier and insideBIGDATA. To read more posts from Kayla, you can follower her personal tech blog at ProductivityBytes.com.