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Some data center operators take their chances with floods

Arielle Emmett | July 16, 2013
Climate change is causing some IT leaders to consider relocating, or at least hardening, their facilities.

Many businesses that can afford disaster recovery solutions are considering turning to companies such as Cervalis for hosted systems in secure multi-tenant facilities outside major cities. An IT infrastructure provider with more than 200 large corporate clients, including global banks and software companies, Cervalis has hundreds of thousands of square feet of multi-tenant space in upstate New York, Passaic County, N.J., and Fairfield County, Conn., all a safe distance from floodplains.

Cervalis provides secured cabinets and redundant power, fully loaded (20 to 40 servers per cabinet), for about $1,500 per month per cabinet. Customers can use its facilities as either primary or secondary data centers, and the price is still cheaper than building redundant facilities on their own, says Zack Margolis, vice president of sales, marketing and business development at Cervalis.

Of course, not all businesses can afford that level of protection, and some small operations might not recognize the importance of data backups. But most organizations will have to find cost-effective means of ensuring business continuity, such as virtualized clouds or backup tapes mounted at small disaster recovery facilities.

Moreover, many businesses still cling to major cities. "Manhattan will still be in high demand because it is an interconnection hub to the United States," says Michael Levy, a data center colocation analyst at 451 Research. Further, financial companies still want to "touch their data" and have it near the center of trading action because they're concerned about latency, even though that's not an issue with fiber-connected facilities, even if they're in remote locations.

Overall, Kumar insists, too few IT leaders are taking the signs of weather and climate change seriously enough. "We have had cases of coastal [flooding] where climate change has become an issue," he says. "In London and Germany, the winters seem to be getting slightly worse; we've had cases of component failure — small bits of electrical equipment freezing up."

Despite all of that, most IT managers still aren't willing to make proactive risk assessments to avert disasters. "When I mention risk assessments, [Gartner clients] say, 'Great point, we'll get engineering to complete a report,'" says Kumar. "But two months later, it's still at the bottom of the to-do pile."


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