Hurricane Sandy Shows Value Of Cloud Services, Co-location And Redundant Facilities
Problems like those sensitize data centers to the possibility of an interruption in operations, says Evanko. "We are seeing a tremendous amount of consultant studies," he notes. Among the options being considered in the wake of Hurricane Sandy are cloud services, co-location and redundant facilities
There is an ongoing transformation in data centers, according to Evanko: Facilities are considering the pros and cons of cloud services or co-location vs. the use of add-on "containers" to the data center. While using co-location or cloud sites is less expensive than owning and operating a data center, he says, the downside is that, in the event of a catastrophe, an outside provider does not take responsibility for the costs of business interruptions if the site becomes inoperable. Co-location sites also present security risks, where data can be exposed or stolen.
A solution that has worked for some businesses is to have redundant facilities. One option is for organizations to have their own redundant facilities. A customer can also use multiple multitenant data providers or one provider with multiple facilities in different locations.
It is possible to deploy IT in two facilities where data is being constantly copied, every hour or so, says Levy. It's not uncommon to have an East Coast/West Coast configuration, so that if the data center goes offline, data moves to the secondary site.
Cloud technology allows for virtualization, says Levy, which means that multiple operating systems can be used on one server and applications can be moved to another server anywhere in the world if it becomes known that a storm is on the way. But "we will never see every application virtualized," Levy says. "Virtualization is helpful, but mission critical facilities need 99.9 percent uptime, and it is not always appropriate to virtualize an application, because it may not perform as well," he notes.
Other steps can also be taken to prevent future loss of services, says Bredehorst. Buildings could be made more resilient, for example, and equipment could be placed higher up in the building. "The biggest hurdle is to get the fire codes and building codes [in New York City] changed," he says, so that data centers are not forced to store their fuel and related equipment in the basement. "This is being discussed right now," he says, "and I think it turned into enough of an issue so that there is a good chance that something will change." Other data centers are talking about moving equipment above the flood plain or relocating.
"One strategy to hedge against failure in old buildings is to invest in fully submersible fuel pumps that can operate under water or have the fuel pump encased in a waterproof box," Levy says.
Companies are also "putting some money toward studying the resiliency of their sites," Ioanna says, noting "a rash of 'hardening' projects."