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Building Operating Management
Ask An Expert: Chris Wade, Data Centers PAGE How To Prepare Data Centers for Extreme Weather Ensuring Data Centers Stay Online During Extreme Weather Outside Factors Influence Planning For Data Center Emergencies Preparing Data Centers for Extreme Cold or Extreme Heat

How To Prepare Data Centers for Extreme Weather

Data Centers   Article Use Policy

There's been some extreme winter weather recently in places that don't usually have it. How does a scenario like that affect data center operations and how can you effectively prepare for that scenario when it's so rare?

An Emergency Response and Business Continuity Plan is generally required for most organizations. Extreme weather conditions should be a part of your emergency response or business continuity plan even if it is a rare scenario.

Redundancy and disaster recovery plans are key components when it comes to preparing and responding to extreme winter weather conditions. Testing these plans and redundancies is also extremely important in making sure the data center stays online.

Proper steps must be taken to ensure that the data center infrastructure support systems remain operational during an extreme weather event. It is also crucial to ensure that your back up or secondary sites are available and online if needed; keep the following considerations in mind when developing a plan.

• Critical utilities may be interrupted, including water, power, natural gas, telephone communications, microwave and repeater based radio systems, cellular telephones, etc. 
• Regional and local services may not be available.
• Major roads, overpasses, bridges and local streets may be impassable or damaged.
• Normal suppliers may not be able to deliver materials.
• Contact with family and homes may be interrupted.

If you are using a hosting provider for your secondary or disaster recovery site, it is also important to validate that they have an adequate emergency action plan in place for severe weather. Make sure you include a plan for ramping up the staffing at these sites to support your operations since many of these type locations are dark sites with minimal staffing.

Answers provided by Chris Wade. Wade has been involved in the mission critical facilities industry for more than 25 years. He is currently the Technical Services Program Manager for Newmark Grubb Knight Frank (NGKF), based in Dallas, Texas.

posted on 2/4/2014