Every year from late spring until mid fall, millions of Americans face the specter of direct or indirect impact from a tropical storm or hurricane. Born out of the steamy waters of the subtropical Atlantic, these rotating tempests pack enough equivalent energy to rival the world’s entire energy output – a sobering fact that puts businesses at risk for a partial or complete loss of their information technology and storage capabilities.

Hurricane Sandy 2012 in New York City

While some years bring little to no activity, with the storms heading out to sea or dissipating over open waters, all it takes is one event to wreak havoc across a wide area. Storm names like Andrew, Katrina, and Sandy, among others, live on in infamy. Their calling card? The billions of dollars of damage and disrupted lives left in their wakes. The high price tag and loss of life is often due to two principle factors: high winds (at least 39 mph sustained for a minimal tropical storm) and flooding, either from torrential rain or tidal, caused by waves crashing on the shore.

Often overlooked is the fact that the toll these storms take can be exacted hundreds of miles inland from where they made landfall. In August 2011, Hurricane Irene proved this point with disastrous results. Despite losing hurricane strength over the Outer Banks of North Carolina, it was landlocked Vermont that bore the brunt of the worst damage when 11 inches of rain fell over the state causing rivers and streams to burst their banks. All told this otherwise unassuming storm cost the US some $14.3 billion, one of the costliest in American history.

 

Data Deluge? Float a Flood Plan

For organizations with essential IT equipment, basement and ground-level flooding is probably the greatest threat. Water and electricity do not mix. Combined with a prolonged power outage and disruption of local repair services, buildings can remain in their post-storm flooded state for days or even weeks, leading to even more electrical damage and corrosion. Just ask New Yorkers about the aftereffects of Hurricane Sandy.

IT professionals and facilities managers must ask themselves two important questions:

  1. What can we do to prevent a crippling disruption to our branch offices and remote locations from natural disasters such as hurricanes?
  2. And how can we protect the network within our offices well in advance of a coming storm? (After all, most of the storm-related risks hurricanes pose is not unique to those late summer blockbusters. Blizzards, tornados, and even garden variety autumn storms all pack high winds and heavy precipitation, frozen or otherwise.)

So, aside from ensuring that your branches have reduced its flood risk by waterproofing equipment or elevating it to a higher floor or at least off the ground on a ground floor or basement, the next most important item on your agenda is power. An uninterruptible power supply (or UPS) system a must if you want to keep all your locations operating through the worst of a crisis. If you’re not familiar with a UPS, it is a device that provides emergency power when the primary power source fails.

Of course, with all backup systems, it’s important someone is responsible for maintaining and testing the system long before a forecasted storm. Consider third-party semi annual and annual inspections too of whatever additional equipment you’ve purchased.

 

Empower Your Organization with Industry-Leading Tools

Real protection from power disturbances comes in the form of equipment like Vertiv’s Liebert GXT4, an excellent on-line UPS that delivers continuous, high-quality AC power with no break when transferring to battery. Ideal for banking, financial, insurance, education, government, healthcare, and the retail and wholesale industries, the system’s features and benefits ensure that remote locations are never in the dark.

The Liebert GXT4 offers higher capacity models (such as 5,000 kVA – 10,000 kVA) with an optional Power Assurance Package, which supports the life cycle of your organization’s UPS systems, including installation, start-up, and onsite maintenance. In addition, through the end of 2017, Kelly Communications Systems proud to offer free shipping on any GXT4 model, a significant cost saving for any organization.

Also, appropriately timed for the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season, Vertiv released its the latest version of its Trellis™ Power Insight software. The software portfolio delivers widespread, centralized monitoring and control of the Liebert GXT4 (UPS) system and networked servers while offering a comprehensive set of alarms, notifications, and automated actions, up to and now including controlled server shutdown.

Trellis™ can safely shut down up to thousands of connected servers in the event of an outage and provides real-time trending data, including voltage and current, for critical UPS performance. This data is consolidated and viewed in customized dashboards to centralize management of all UPS systems.

 

“It’ll Never Happen to Us”

In late May 2017, British Airways suffered a major power outage in its primary data center, grounding more than 700 flights and stranding nearly 75,000 passengers. Not to mention, costing the company more than $100 million (or £80 million). The outage was blamed on human error (when a contractor inadvertently pulled the plug on the power supply); however, the issue illustrates the important need for backup power.

No matter the circumstances, whether it be at the hands of a hurricane storm season or an employee, ensure that all your locations have the tools they need for business continuity!