Hurricane Sandy is putting East Coast cloud data centers to the test, and some are starting to run low on backup generator fuel reserves.

Chris Talbot

October 31, 2012

2 Min Read
Hurricane Sandy Update: Data Centers Running Out of Fuel

There may be something to be said for redundancy, failover and colocation after East Coast cloud data centers start to run out of fuel reserves and cloud services start to fail. Not every data center is having this problem, but some of the worst hit are in the middle of the most damaged areas and aren't likely to get a refuel or get consistent access to power in the immediate future.

Although cloud is a perfectly viable option for business continuity–and quite likely the best option in many cases–without proper planning, business could be disastrously affected by major disasters such as the one caused by Hurricane Sandy. Such a "Frankenstorm" is a little out of the ordinary, so some forgiveness may be in order, but when your own company or your reputation with customers are on the line, how much do you want to simply cross your fingers and hope for the best?

Ars Technica's Oliver Rich noted in a story that one of the worst situations for data centers right now is the flooding of 75 Broad St. in Manhattan, which has taken down both Peer1 Hosting and Internap. That data center is right in the middle of the worst damage in New York, and it had to go into controlled shutdown due to lack of fuel and flood damage.

Flooding in a data center must be making all customers of Peer1 and Internap cringe right now. Hopefully measures have been taken to protect data, but even more importantly, hopefully nobody was hurt.

Equinix also reported having "minor leaks" at its New York and Washington, D.C., data centers. Many of its data centers were in the path of Hurricane Sandy, but according to Sam Kapoor, chief global operations officer, some of the data centers had experienced power outages and were at times relying on 48-hour supplies of fuel for generators. If they're still running on emergency power, they must be coming close to running out of fuel by now.

One of the ways Equinix and others aimed to maintain uptime was to arrange for backup fuel should power outages go beyond typical 48 and 60 hours of backup fuel.

It's certain that Hurricane Sandy is putting cloud data centers to the test. Many lessons are likely to be learned in business continuity and disaster planning once the dangers of Sandy have passed.

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