Massive Houston Flooding Knocks Servers Offline

Extreme storms Monday and Tuesday knocked the servers at many Houston-area businesses out of commission and boosted demand for disaster recovery protection.

Roughly a dozen of the 1,700 servers supported by Ergos Technology were down Tuesday morning because of power and internet service provider (ISP) issues in the region, according to Steve Pearce, chief technology officer of the Houston-based managed services provider. The company also needed to make one trip out to a client site to get its servers up and running.

"Our clients are pretty well-versed in storms, so they've made adjustments accordingly for the lack of power or lower-level flooding," Pearce told CRN, noting that virtually all of his clients knew to power their servers down before Memorial Day weekend given the severe weather projections.

[Related: Storm Grinds IT Operations For Bay Area Businesses To A Halt]

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The fourth-largest city in the United Sates is suffering from some of its worst flooding in years after the region was hammered by as much as 10 inches of rain overnight. As many as five Houston-area people had died in the flooding as of midday Tuesday, according to the New York Times, and the Associated Press reported early Tuesday that more than 350 homes had been destroyed and 1,000 residents had been displaced across the Lone Star State.

The storm has also prompted many of the roughly 5 percent to 10 percent of Centre Technologies' clients that still don't have a disaster recovery plan to reconsider, according to Chris Pace, CEO of the Houston-based company.

"The conversations are starting to happen really, really fast," Pace told CRN, noting that the severe weather may cause delays in drafting service-level agreements (SLAs).

Pace has urged all of his customers to utilize both disaster recovery and co-location centers -- which provide companies with space, power, cooling and physical security for their server, storage and networking equipment -- to minimize disruption in the event of severe weather and allow clients to devote their time and energy to their core areas of business.

Some 5 percent of Centre's customers were hit by the power outage and had neither a disaster recovery plan nor a local on-site generator, Pace said. Most of the stragglers are smaller, single-site organizations with file servers and other on-site infrastructure, he said.

Centre also benefited from the redundancy it has in place, thanks to operating multiple network operation centers (NOCs) around Texas. Many of Centre's Houston-area employees had trouble getting in Tuesday because of the flooding and highway exit closures, so the solution provider had its employees in the Dallas-area and other NOCs come in early to ensure continuous support.

As for Ergos, roughly 100 of its 150 employees live in Houston, about 25 of whom were unable to make it into the office Tuesday, Pearce said. The storms and minor flooding left sticks, tree limbs and branches in the company's parking lot, he said, as well as a little water that seeped into the building.

Centre has been careful to reconnect customer equipment in the right order after the storms of the past two weeks to avoid power surges, Pace said.

All of Ergos' and Centre's client outages had been resolved by midday Tuesday, Pearce and Pace said. Neither company had received any reports of damage to customer hardware or other physical infrastructure.