Snow and Ice: Prepping Your Data Center For Severe Weather

Snow and Ice: Prepping Your Data Center For Severe Weather


There’s a chill in the air, and winter is just around the corner. Time for scarves, hot chocolate, sleigh rides, and Christmas Carols. And, depending on where you live, time to start planning for some pretty nasty blizzards.

Although they might not wreak quite as much havoc as a hurricane, winter storms can be devastating in their own right. Heavy snowfall can cut off roadways and take down power lines. Extreme cold can make it impossible for employees to manage the trek to the workplace, while also putting undue strain on a facility’s climate control systems.

Consider, for example, Winter Storm Jonas – one of the first severe weather events of 2016, and one that hammered the East Coast with snow, wind, and frost. How does one prepare for such inclement weather? More importantly, how does one ensure that their data center survives it?

Step One: Keep An Eye On The Skies

The first, most important step, according to Digital Reality, is to monitor upcoming weather events. Given that one-third of the United States’ Gross Domestic Product relies upon industries that are vulnerable to severe weather, this doesn’t present much of a problem for those of us who know where to look. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service, for example, keeps a close watch on global weather patterns and climate changes, and publishes regular advisories on severe weather.

Keep yourself aware of what’s coming, and you’ll be much better prepared to react when it arrives.

Step Two: Essential Equipment

If your facility has ever survived a hurricane (or you’ve read about what’s involved in doing so), you’re already somewhat prepared for a winter storm. However, there are a few additional pieces of equipment you’re going to need if you’re to make it safely through. Shovels and salt are a must to remove snow from the roof and parking lot, as is winter clothing such as coats and gloves. And in the event that something goes wrong with your data center’s heat, you’re going to want to provide staff with amenities like warm blankets and hot coffee, of course.

Other equipment includes:

  • Additional fuel for backup generators.
  • Water and food
  • First-aid kits
  • Flashlights

Step Three: Communicate Effectively

Internal and external communication are both critical during a severe weather event. Ensure you’ve channels open to keep yourself in regular contact with customers and clients, such as via a Twitter account. Your communiques don’t even need to be particularly complex: something as simple as “three feet of snow. Servers running smoothly” is more than enough. Advance planning is important here, as well, with redundant network and power connections.

Speaking of redundancy…

Step Four: Maintain Backups

It should go without saying that before a storm hits, everything in your facility needs to be redundant, from the servers to the power to the network connections. If you lose connectivity for any reason, if a system ends up going down or a server ends up failing, you need to have offsite solutions that can be spun up immediately to ensure uptime.

Step Five: Ensure Employee Safety

Last but certainly not least, you need to do everything in your power to keep your staff safe during a storm. If it’s unsafe for someone to come into work, don’t force them to do so. Put people on alert before a storm comes so they won’t be caught unawares by it, and implement a staffing strategy which ensures round-the-clock coverage onsite.

Closing Thoughts

Winter is on the way. That needn’t be an intimidating thought, though. With adequate preparation, you should be able to weather just about any storm. Alternatively, you could host with Liberty Center One, and we’ll take care of that for you.

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