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News
17.02.2014

Data Centre Contingency – Risk of flooding

With the south of the UK in dire straits over the unprecedented winter rain storms it is a major concern for those companies reliant on data centre infrastructure located in high risk areas.

London and the surrounding area is a major data hub particularly for industries that require superior connectivity. Datacentres in and around the Capital are supporting many of our financial services as well as the operations of a multitude of other industries. With these unprecedented floods there are questions over the safety of the facilities in the Capital and along the Thames Valley.

Because of this 221 year record rain fall the Thames Barrier has been closed for a record number of consecutive tides. Even with this protection water finds its own path and those businesses with prime riverside office space and infrastructure are getting nervous.

Many firms organise their building’s space in a logically financial/status way; office space in the upper floors and infrastructure in the less desirable, but more “functional”, areas below street level.

We often joke that datacentres and comms rooms are often the most critical areas in a building but they are always assigned to the spaces no one else wants – because who wants their office in the basement?

For many, the flooding has been catastrophic on a personal level and businesses have also been affected. With the threat to London, the Thames Valley and South West, businesses need to be aware of contingencies for such extremes. Taking lessons from the “apocalyptic” weather event that was Super Storm Sandy in the US, is a good way to understand the implications.

Companies such as Verizon and Datagram have major services based in buildings in Manhattan which bore the brunt of the water surges as Sandy reached land. Typically they had their switching centres, diesel tanks for emergency back-up generators and other significant infrastructure located in the basement floors of their buildings, all of which were flooded. Not just flooded but filled with water, even the lobby of the Datagram building was waist deep in water. The services provided by these data rich companies were under considerable threat.

It was of primary importance that client’s data was kept online and accessible. As the electricity grid had been shut down staff concentrated on ensuring hosting hubs in Connecticut and New Jersey, which had been sold as secondary back up for many of their larger customers, could be switched to maintain continuity of services for all.

It took a week for these high profile companies to get mobile generators in place and resume “normal” service. This was due to restrictions on movement and other safety orientated red tape. Meanwhile the broader clean-up operation got underway.

Cloud capabilities are only as good as the data centres they operate in and their connectivity to your staff and business. As cloud traffic increases connectivity is slowed and with switch sites and POPs potentially lost to flooding even more traffic is forced through the remaining network.

So how would your business hold up?

This is about business continuity and the business continuity strategies of your third party providers.

At Future-tech we provide Risk Assessments, Audits and Reports for you and your third parties data centres. We also provide business continuity testing and strategy development.

Ensuring they are correctly in place and stress tested before they are needed will help your organisation stay ahead should it be affected by and extreme weather event.

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