How Data Centers Can Prepare for a Natural Disaster

May 31, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

We’ve learned that the Cloud isn’t actually floating in the sky, it’s actually thousands of data centers full of servers that store and transmit all of the data we use every day. But what happens when a data center is affected by a natural disaster? In this post, we’ll take a look at what defensive strategies are used to keep our data safe and our cloud aloft, even in the worst circumstances.

 

From blizzards and hurricanes to floods and fires, we seem to have seen a large number of natural disasters in recent history. Fortunately, data centers are prepared with plans to maintain Internet connections and keep your data accessible even in the worst conditions. By having preparedness plans in place, staff willing to stay at their posts and generators to provide power, key data centers can withstand record-breaking hurricanes and even serve as evacuation shelters for citizens and headquarters for law enforcement.

 

Here are some ways data centers can prepare for natural disasters:

 

Make a Plan

The best line of defense is having a good offense - having a plan in place, testing that plan, having a plan B for when that plan fails and then being ready to improvise. When it comes to Mother Nature, even the most prepared have to roll with the punches as things change.

 

Build a Fortress

The ideal structure to house your data center will be impenetrable. That might be too much to ask, but newly constructed buildings can be made to withstand earthquakes, flood, fire or explosion. The addition of shatterproof/explosive-proof glass, reinforced concrete walls and being in a strategic location outside flood zones can also provide an extra layer of protection.

 

These additional precautions might not be possible in older buildings, but there are still steps you can take to help protect your data center:

 

·       Move hardware to a safer location if possible:

    - Ideally, a data center should be away from windows, in the               center of a building and above ground level

    - Higher floors are better, except in an earthquake zone, then               lower floors are safer

·       Install pumps to remove water and generators to keep the pumps          running

·       If there are windows, remove objects that could become airborne

·       Fire extinguishing systems should be checked regularly

 

Redundancy is Key

Hosting all data in one place is opening the door for disaster. A safer option is to host it in multiple locations at redundant centers that can back each other up if disaster strikes one or more facilities. These centers don’t have to be on opposite ends of the world, but putting them in different geographic regions is probably the safest bet. They should be far enough apart that one disaster won’t take them all out.

 

Back That Data Up

If there’s no time to back up data to the Cloud, making a physical backup of the data and sending it with someone who’s evacuating is a good second option.

 

Natural disasters are unavoidable, and the most important asset to keep safe is always the people working inside the data center, but with a plan in place to keep Mother Nature at bay, you might be able to salvage the data center too.

 

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