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Companies providing data center services have been working overtime to prepare their customers for the short-term and long-term impacts of Superstorm Sandy, which has caused widespread flooding and power outages on the northeastern U.S. seaboard since Monday.
Massive flooding and transportation interruptions has made it difficult for data center service providers to access their facilities, causing them and customers to put into action disaster recovery plans.
NaviSite, an Andover, Mass.-based provider of hosted cloud and application services, has its primary data center in Andover, over 30 miles from the ocean, but had emergency procedures in place in preparation for Sandy, said Michael Poole, senior vice president of service delivery for the company.
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"Only our critical infrastructure personnel are going in to the data center," Poole said. "As long as the cell towers stay up, our other people can work out of home."
Preparations at NaviSite for Superstorm Sandy, which late Monday evening was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, began the weekend before the storm hit thanks to a lot of activity from customers who had not planned in advance for the need to shut down multiple offices, Poole said.
"One customer with offices in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington D.C., the four major cities hit by Sandy, worried it might not have enough capacity to run its Citrix remote desktop infrastructure," he said. "This storm is unprecedented. So we added additional capacity on Saturday."
The company has also opened a storm bridge on a 24x7 basis to handle customer issues during the emergency, Poole said. For now, the storm bridge will send messages to customers on a daily basis updating them of the situation. But should the Andover data center lose power, company execs will help man the storm bridge phones to help customers, and hourly updates will be sent, he said.
One problem for data center providers facing potential disasters the magnitude of Superstorm Sandy is just how much additional capacity is needed on a temporary vs. a permanent basis, Poole said.
"We might do a lot of work to add capacity to take care of a problem, but then the customer might say, 'OK, the storm's done, we don't need it anymore,'" he said.
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