The blizzard that just hit the northeastern U.S. has been labeled a “dud” by some New Yorkers, because it didn’t live up to apocalyptic predictions that had them buried and immobile for days.
The “dud” characterization aside (folks in Boston, which got 31 inches, might disagree), Equinix’s message regarding the Blizzard of 2015 is that – disaster or dud – we were ready.
Disaster preparedness is a full-time priority at Equinix. Even when no storms are brewing, we’re watching. Our 24-hour operations center in Tampa, Fla., doesn’t just monitor the vitals at all of our data centers in the continental U.S. (power, cooling, humidity, etc.), it monitors the weather.
When we see our data centers in the path of a serious storm, we get moving to make sure our services stay on. Operational reliability is the hallmark of our brand. We’ve spent billions of dollars worldwide to make sure our data centers are built and maintained to set the global standard for resiliency. You can bet our disaster prep matches that level of commitment.
The first thing we do when a storm is coming is head for our backup generators. Every Equinix International Business Exchange ™ (IBX®) data center has them on standby, and even our backup generators have backups. We make sure their fuel is topped off, the generators have been recently tested, and that we have spare parts on hand. That part of our infrastructure must be rock-solid and prepared for a long outage. During Superstorm Sandy in 2012, some areas of the Northeastern U.S. lost power for five days, but contracts we had with fuel companies prior to the storm allowed us to replenish our supplies. Similar contracts are in place at every Equinix data center.
Another priority is ensuring we have enough personnel on hand. Our people need to be at the data centers before the storm gets rolling, in case the roads become inaccessible. Our people also need to be ready to stay. We stock up on supplies such as bottled water, sleeping bags and cots, and plenty of food both for employees and any customers who may want to stay on site. The food can’t be perishable, so we’re eating things like breakfast bars, canned goods, and even the Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs) packets that the military uses in field operations. Oh, and lots of coffee.
A final component to emphasize is our detailed planning. Each data center regularly runs disaster drills and has continually updated plans in place to cover all contingencies. The critical documents and data we need to respond to an emergency are accessible at a “command center” we set up at each data center, along with computers we keep powered up for troubleshooting. The people studying those plans or working those computer have a lot of experience. They thoroughly understand our operations and what could happen, because they’ve seen it. At Equinix, we’ll never be surprised by what any storm brings, but we’ll never stop preparing for the unexpected, either.