Backup data centers can keep the lights on

Looking back at 2013, it could almost be termed the year of technology disasters.

Most are familiar with the multiple issues associated with But bring to mind these additional disasters from 2013:

  • Sabre’s travel booking system crashed during the peak of school holiday traveling season, causing cancellations and delays for hundreds of thousands of passengers, though the system was only down for three hours.
  • Online customers at Walmart thought they scored the deal of a lifetime when they were able to buy computer monitors and projectors, usually around $500, for as little as $8.99. Walmart, however, did not intend to rollback prices quite so much. The company blamed the issue on IT glitches and refused to honor the low prices, upsetting customers and hurting the Walmart company image.
  • NHS, Scotland’s biggest health board, experienced major IT glitches in its servers and doctors and nurses were unable to access vital patient information, postponing 500 operations and appointments. Luckily, no patients were put into critical condition because of the system’s failure.

Sometimes, IT disaster means angry customers and tarnish on a company’s image. Sometimes, IT disaster means a threat to patients’ lives. No matter which situation a company is confronting, the importance of a reliable and secure system is painfully obvious.

Reliability starts with high industry standards in a checklist of requirements: climate-controlled environments, intelligent security structure and state-of-the-art equipment, technologies and design. When planning for disaster recovery, ensure these items are in place:

  • Redundancy. Redundant power supplies, uninterrupted power supplies, redundant networking connections, multiple redundant cooling systems, redundant fire suppression.
  • Backup. Backed-up systems ensure business continuity.
  • Innovative technologies. Peak performance in IT comes through continual maintenance, upgrade and top-of-the-line equipment in technology.
  • Physical security. A location designed to safeguard against both manmade and natural disasters, including water damage protection. Solid, non-raised floors to withstand heavy loads, reduce stress or movement, promote a more sterile environment and allow for better temperature management.
  • Monitoring security. Multilevel biometric (iris and fingertip) and proximity card system control access throughout each facility sector. A surveillance system that records and monitors all entrances and individual suites. On-site security officers who patrol the internal and external perimeters around the clock.

A strong hosting solution provides reliable protection and stability through multiple layers of security, redundancy and 24-7 monitoring on-site at the data center.

The physical location of an IT infrastructure is also key to its reliability. With safety being of utmost importance, many large organizations (such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook) have relocated their data centers to the Midwest. As surprising as these decisions seem at first blush, there’s a reason behind the relocations. In the Midwest, real estate, upkeep and utility prices are much more affordable than East or West Coast properties. The Midwest is generally a “safe haven,” as natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, mudslides and tsunamis are much less likely in the region.

Additionally, given distance from high-profile metropolitan areas, there is a lower risk of terrorist threats in the Midwest. The climate of the Midwest fluctuates throughout the year, meaning power and cooling requirements alter year-round, keeping costs down.

You don’t need to look at disaster recovery as a “when” it happens — build up your peace of mind through the security of a world-class data center network. Because in the end, it’s your peace of mind that matters.

Kevin Knuese is chief technology officer of Symmetry Corp. in Milwaukee.

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