The arrival of winter means many things: family gatherings, cozy fires and warm sweaters and scarves. It also means cold weather, fewer daylight hours, the flu season and travel hazards including bitter cold and snowy and icy roads. In the data center industry, being prepared for winter means businesses should review their strategies for potential outages due to storm-related impacts.

Disaster avoidance and recovery planning is essential for businesses in keeping their data safe and secure – be it on premise, in the cloud or colocation. It ensures that critical people and processes remain operational, minimizes the impact of unplanned events and helps businesses recover more quickly in the event of an impact. Below are some eye-opening statistics that point out the high cost of outages:

  • Outages cost enterprises an astounding $700 billion per year.
  • The cost of an unplanned data center outage is nearly $9,000 per minute.
  • The total cost of a data center outage has increased 38 percent since 2010 to $740,357.

Planning for contingencies in the case of storm-related disruptions is only possible if companies know for which contingency they need to plan. One of these contingencies is the data center location – businesses need to know where their IT infrastructure is and assess the potential risks surrounding that location. Once that is determined, they can decide on the elements of their business resiliency strategy that may need attention.  The main question to ask yourself in this area is if the primary and secondary (backup) data centers are far enough apart as to avoid both being impacted by a single event, natural disaster or man-made incident such as train derailment or terrorist attack.

Another way to be prepared for a storm-related disaster is to identify business processes that could be affected by adverse conditions and develop a detailed plan that outlines how to maintain continuous operations through such events. Frequent review and rigorous testing should then be performed to ensure the disaster recovery plan remains aligned with changing business processes and system changes.

Each of CenturyLink’s 60+ data centers employs multiple methods to reduce and even eliminate downtime in the event of a disaster. This planning was especially evident during Superstorm Sandy in 2012, when all 15 CenturyLink data centers in the storm’s path avoided downtime. A big reason for the company’s ability to keep our data centers operating at 100 percent is that they’re built for resiliency and include capabilities designed for business continuity.  More importantly, the operations team has built upon over 20 years of data center management experience to develop comprehensive policies, methods, and procedures that cover not only day-today operation, but pre-event preparation for disasters like hurricanes that provide at least a bit of warning, and clear roles and actions when a major incident occurs so everyone knows what they need to do and with whom to communicate.  Without a well-rehearsed plan, even a minor incident can spin out of control causing much greater business impact than anticipated.

To learn more about why disaster recovery planning is an important part of business sustainability, please read our eBook, “Six Ways Disaster Recovery Can Cost Your Business.”

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