Data Disasters | Episode 1 - Hurricane Sandy takes major sites offline

Data disaster! Environmental factors like excess heat, flooding and power outtages can wreak havoc on any business.With over a quarter of all business outtages caused by environmental factors like extreme heat, flooding and power failure, an effective monitoring system is non-negotiable. In this series we take a look at some of the worst case scenarios of failures in server rooms, data centres and other critical infrastructure from around the globe.


October 2012 - Hurricane Sandy takes leading news sites offline

One of the more extreme examples of the damage flooding can cause to a data centre was witnessed in the aftermath of the massive storm-cell that lashed America's Atlantic coast in late 2012. Manhattan-based data centre Datagram — whose client list included massive content providers like BuzzFeed.com, HuffingPost.com and Gawker.com — were forced to shut down their operations after their entire basement level was flooded.

Power outages were extensive across Manhattan in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.  By Hybirdd - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22461350While many of Datagram's clients had their sites backed up on redundant servers, Gawker.com were one of the unlucky few who were forced to resort to blog platforms like WordPress and Tumblr to maintain some digital presence in the wake of the disaster.

Hurricane Sandy's estimated damage bill is around $75B USD, and the cost in terms of reputational damage and opportunity cost for companies like Gawker and Datagram are even harder to quantify.

Gawker.com management were understandably quick to point the finger at their data managers as they scrambled to maintain relevance in the digital media space, with its demand for a constant updating of content.

The company's Executive Director of Operations Scott Kidder was quick to shift the blame to Datagram and outline plans to find another data centre as a backup, highlighting the immense reputational damage such failures can incur.

"We — as other publishers — had counted on Datagram's ability to withstand anticipated natural disasters, which seems to have been misplaced," Kidder told the media.


The Lessons

While this is obviously an extreme scenario, it serves to highlight the disastrous impacts flooding can have on electrical systems and the critical infrastructure they support.

ServersCheck's Water Leak Detection Sensor can provide invaluable early warning of the first signs of flooding in your critical infrastructure site. The 6m cable alerts whenever moisture is detected along its length. Several cables can be daisy-chained together to up to 30m for comprehensive coverage of larger sites.

ServersCheck's Water Leak Detection Sensor's 6m cable alerts whenever moisture is detected along its length. Several cables can be daisy-chained together to up to 30m for comprehensive coverage of larger sites.

 

 

If used in conjunction with a Sensorhub, relay switching can be utilised to power on a pump as soon as flooding is detected.

 


Stay tuned for Episode 2 - a look at how overheating spelled DISASTER for Microsoft's email systems...

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