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November 05, 2012

Sandy's Impact on the Data Center Network

Lower Manhattan took a major hit when Hurricane Sandy washed ashore. The flood and power outages are still affecting the data centers located in Sandy’s wake. Within two days of the storm, several data centers, including the larger ones, were confident they’d be up and running in a short amount of time.

Unfortunately, a lack of power in many areas was keeping the data center network in various locations from doing its job. According to this Data Center Knowledge report, most of the trouble comes from roads that have yet to be cleared and the remaining high water that can’t drain.

For telecommunications giant Verizon (News - Alert), the news wasn’t good. The company’s headquarters are located near the former World Trade Center. Some in the organization said the damage to its data center network was on par with that of the 9/11 attack, when the devastation included taking down a portion of the primary building.

The building was not built to withstand flooding as the lower three floors of the basement were still under water late in the week following the storm. The biggest shot to the data center network was when the storm pushed water through protective plugs, which allowed water into the data center network cable box.

Fortunately, some of the more major data center network equipment, like switches and routers, were installed on higher floors untouched by the storm water.

Some companies, like Intergate Manhattan, got lucky. The company is located on the edge of one of the flood zones and took all the wind that the surrounding buildings got hit with, but wasn’t damaged and never lost power even though surrounding neighborhoods are experiencing power outages. The company isn’t untouched though – they will have to delay a project, which was slated to be completed in January.

Datagram had to pump water out of its basement as well as wait for the approval to re-energize the building from Con Edison, one the gas and electricity providers in Manhattan. The company is avoiding further delays in access to its data center network by bringing in a large generator to restore power independently.

Meanwhile, Internap (News - Alert) employees busied themselves pumping water out of the basement of their building. Their building was flooded with 15 feet of water. Atlantic Metro employees fought to stay in touch with their clients through Twitter (News - Alert) as they worked to restore their data center network.

Designing a data center network involves a lot of planning and backup options, but it’s likely that no data center network in the path of Sandy could have been prepared for a storm of that magnitude. Surprises will happen, but business continuity plans for the data center network need to be in place, even for the unlikely disaster.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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