When faced with hurricanes, earthquakes, geomagnetic storms, and floods,
company data is safer in the cloud than anywhere else. Traditional data centers
are built strong to protect against natural disasters, but when it comes time
for your data to evacuate, it needs to have somewhere to go. The cloud offers
that protection with multiple levels of redundancy across the world, so your
data will survive even if one location is hit or damaged. Here are four
scenarios the cloud protects you from:
Protecting data during a hurricane is no easy feat. For data centers outside
of a hurricane’s direct path, “hardening” is a viable option. A hardened data
center has hurricane shields for all windows and doors, is located on and upper
floor (above the parking lot, for example), and comes equipped with flood
precautions such as pumps.
Hurricane Sandy proved in 2012, even the best facility designs do little for
protection when in the storm’s direct path. The storm tested the value of
cloud services, colocation, and redundant facilities, proving that data is
more secure when not tied to a single location. Some of the lessons learned from
Hurricane Katrina in 2004 proved invaluable in 2012, including the need for
redundant backups outside of the hurricane area.
Data center providers know how to protect infrastructure. “Racks need to be
bolted down and use seismic restraints, and the facility must have multiple
layers of redundancy,” writes Jason Verge for
Data Center Knowledge. “While the facility may navigate through an
earthquake, it’s the outside infrastructure that poses the biggest threat,”
The cloud offers that protection with multiple levels of redundancy
across the world. so your data will survive even if one location is hit
No matter how well prepared the data center provider is, unexpected
damage because of external surroundings can put customer data at risk. Verge
recommends that data center customers have a second deployment outside of
known fault zones.
One threat you might not often think of is solar flares. Solar flares, or
coronal mass ejections, are events in which
the sun flings large amounts of energy and particles into space. If this
discharge hits the Earth, it can produce phenomena (like the auroras), but
it can also damage and destroy electrical systems not unlike an
electromagnetic pulse (EMP).
Many of the precautions for geomagnetic storms are the same as for other
disasters (backup power supplies, a
disaster recovery plan, etc). Unlike other natural disasters that simply
damage physical infrastructure, solar flares affect electrical systems and
can cause months-long outages in certain regions. The only real solution is
to have cross-region backup of all your data.
As the world gets warmer and the sea level continues to rise, coastal
data centers need to protect against flooding. Emergency backup generators
need to be made flood proof, and there needs to be enough fuel stored to
last for days. However, at the end of the day, if a data center is in the
wrong spot at the wrong time, even the best-made plan might not be
enough to keep it online.
Even companies outside of regular flood zones should be aware of this
contingency; earlier this month, for example,
Phoenix experienced record-breaking flash flooding following the largest
single day’s rain ever recorded in the normally dry city.
Tony Surma, CTO of Microsoft Disaster Response, “the awareness that
information is a basic need in disaster response—right along with food,
water, and shelter—is driving use of the cloud.” When data is stored in the
cloud, companies can “rapidly deploy resources on demand and accommodate
large spikes in traffic regardless of local conditions.” This way the cloud
protects your data no matter the disaster.