Data Center Operators Take Chances with Floods

by Arielle Emmett

Given the dire warnings about climate change, some business leaders and IT professionals are pondering this question: How should data center managers handle the crop of so-called 100- and even 500-year storms, coastal floods and other ecological disasters that climatologists predict are heading our way?

Some experts suggest that managers of mission-critical data centers simply need to harden their existing facilities, other observers say data centers need to be moved to higher ground, and a third group advises data center managers to pursue both strategies.

One thing is certain, experts say: Few IT organizations — even those that suffered or narrowly escaped damage during recent major storms — are thinking long term. Most IT leaders are, if anything, taking the path of least resistance and least expense.

For instance, the response to Hurricane Sandy, on the East Coast at least, “is nothing more than hardening existing data centers,” says Peter Sacco, founder and president of PTS Data Center Solutions, a data center design and management consultancy in Franklin Lakes, N.J. On the other hand, he says, the fact that most computers are networked these days de-emphasizes “the importance of any single data center.”

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