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Are You Ready for the Floods?

15th, July 2020

It’s a well-known fact that computers and water don’t mix well together. As every year passes, we hear news that whole towns or even regions in the UK are being flooded, which no doubt sends shivers going down Data Centre Managers’ spines. Unfortunately flooding in the UK is occurring more frequently and with increasingly devastating consequences.

However back in 2016, research by Zenium Technology Partners found that half of all UK companies operating data centre infrastructure admitted that they were unprepared for natural disasters; and it is unlikely that the figure has been vastly improved upon over the past four years.

For the likes of Vodafone, their data centre in Leeds was caught up in the 2015 winter’s floods in Northern England seeing the damage leaving customers with intermittent voice and data services. So, if you think it won’t happen to you, maybe it is time to think again.

So, what can you do to protect yourself from flooding?

Relocating your IT infrastructure is of course one option. However, this is usually not only costly and time consuming, but it also provides no guarantee of the safety of your equipment or business operation.

There are alternatives though. Companies can prepare for a potential disaster by working closely with experienced Data Centre Infrastructure Specialists and Data Recovery Experts to understand which vital business processes need to be protected and how they can be recovered in the event of flooding.

By implementing effective and robust planning it will ensure that the correct solutions are put into place which can recover all business processes within the required time frame, thanks to data records being stored off-site.

It is important to consider that protecting your data centre from a natural disaster is not the same as securing it against an unnatural threat, such as a terrorist attack. The latter is more about security rather than protection. Implementing measures like adding security cameras will not assist you in the event of a natural disaster and neither will planting trees to help hide the data centre from view, which in a storm or flood surge these tress could be uprooted by strong winds and damage the data centre exterior.

If you choose to relocate a data centre to higher ground it may eliminate flooding as a serious issue, but it may also increase the data centre’s exposure to high winds and lightning strikes.

Things to Consider

When designing a new data centre, design specialists should focus on disaster avoidance and resiliency, whereas in the case of an existing data centre, you should concentrate on disaster remediation and recovery. The latter requires a cost/benefit analysis considering factors such as weather history; damage, if any, from previous storms; and weather trends.

While it may seem obvious, the main consideration is to build in areas not subject to severe flooding. If it is financially feasible, consider building two data centres in separate locations, therefore if one suffers flood damage, the other data centre can continue vital business operations. Another option would be to have a DR solution situated in a colocation facility hosting your most critical data.

Common sense says that water accumulates at the lowest level therefore when designing your data centre ensure that equipment is elevated where possible. Relocate equipment or other physical assets away from doors and windows or choose not to have them as all if possible. Remove outdoor furniture, rubbish containers, and other relatively lightweight objects that could become windblown missiles. Inspect the roof flashing at regular intervals to ensure that there are no leaks will prevent pooling water leaking through.

Flooding is a natural disaster, but it doesn’t need to be a disaster for your data centre. With some thought out designs and a robust DR plan you can be prepared for the worst and still be able to operate your business efficiently and effectively. If you think you wouldn’t be able to protect your data centre against flooding, then contact the team at Workspace Technology to help you to put a plan in place before it is too late.

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