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Could a Category 5 Hurricane Take Down East Coast Data Centers? 214

Posted by Soulskill
from the cloud-versus-real-cloud dept.
TheNextCorner writes "With more data moving into the cloud, there is an increasing danger of data loss when one of these cloud computing data centers fails. Hurricanes pose a real threat to infrastructure located in Virginia and North Carolina, where Google, Apple & Facebook have opened large data centers. 'Where would the most damaging hit be? It's debatable, but the most detrimental hit may be in Virginia. Amazon Web Services (AWS) has one of their major centers in Northern Virginia. ... In a study involving millions of people, a third of those surveyed reported visiting a website every day that used Amazon's infrastructure. In 2011, Amazon's S3 cloud stored 762 billion objects. It's possible that Amazon's cloud alone holds an entire 1% of the Internet.' Could a category 5 Hurricane become a problem for these cloud data centers and take down parts the Internet?"
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Could a Category 5 Hurricane Take Down East Coast Data Centers?

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  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @01:51PM (#40920311)

    Could a category 5 Hurricane become a problem for these cloud data centers and take down parts the Internet?"

    Only if they haven't switched to Cat 6 cables yet.

  • Priorities (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Roachie (2180772) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @01:52PM (#40920323)

    A Cat 5 impacts the East Coast and we are worried that Facebook or Amazon might be down?

    • Good point.

      There are many data centers built to withstand F5. It's how long they can be without power, and if the redundant network paths are strenuous enough to hold up. Networks can heal pretty quickly but if most carriers are down, then bottlenecks and other failure modes occur.

      But an F5 storm is crippling in many other ways that are important. Checking your Facebook may be trivial by comparison.

      • Re:Priorities (Score:5, Informative)

        by Tyler Eaves (344284) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @02:08PM (#40920555)

        Category 5 and F5 are very different beasts.

        An F5 tornado is going to level,or at least mostly demolish, most buildings short of a concrete bunker.

        A Category 5 hurricane is roughly equivalent to a low end F3 tornado - it will destroy weaker structures like prefab metal buildings and mobile homes, and perhaps de-roof and blow the windows out of more solid foundation-built structures. Still very bad news, but not on quite the same scale. Hurricanes do most the damage from flooding anyway, not the straightline winds.

        • You're right. Wasn't thinking.

        • Re:Priorities (Score:5, Interesting)

          by pillageplunder (183475) <tarntootaine.hotmail@com> on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @03:09PM (#40921269)

          Well, Typically a Hurricane leaves a larger footprint than a Tornado, in that a larger area is affected, and also the duration of a Hurricane is much longer than that of a Tornado. Yes, an F5 tornado is much more powerful and destructive than a Cat 5 Hurricane, but given how much longer a hurricane will be over a given area, it's likely that damage will be roughly equal.
          Bad news either way you slice it.

        • Re:Priorities (Score:4, Informative)

          by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @03:41PM (#40921693) Homepage Journal

          I've been through both a cat 2 hurricane and a strong F2 tornado, and your description of an F3's damage is not in the least accurate. One commercial building was half gone and huge steel girders twisted like putty. two meter diameter trees uprooted. Roofs impaled by other roofs. A walk-in beer coolers torn from a bar. Buildings built out of concrete blocks destroyed. I left a link to a journal about both experiences further down, if you're interested in a first-hand account of what it's like to be in a hurricane and tornado.

          The thing is, being inside a tornado is like being inside a giant blender with sticks and rocks and dead animals and splintered wood and even cars acting as the blender's blades.

          An F5? Man, I would NOT want to be in one of those! I don't even want to be in any tornado again.

        • Re:Priorities (Score:4, Insightful)

          by fnj (64210) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @04:02PM (#40921969)

          Hurricanes are not comparable in ANY way to tornadoes.

          Nobody who knows anything about the subject thinks wind outright wrecking structures is the largest worry in a big hurricane. That does happen, but the largest worry is coastal flooding due to wind driven surge, combined with PROLONGED power outage over a LARGE area. Often, ridiculously heavy and prolonged downpours over a large area add a delayed punch due to river flooding. None of that is a factor at all with tornadoes.

          They are both bad. In different ways, and on a different geographical scale.

        • Re:Priorities (Score:4, Insightful)

          by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @04:32PM (#40922413) Homepage
          You forgot the part where a Cat 5 hurricane is HUNDREDS of miles wide, whereas a tornado is a hundred feet, if that. A hurricane also lasts for hours while a tornado lasts for a few seconds. Other than that, yeah, it's not nearly on the same scale. The tornado, I mean.
          • by khallow (566160)
            There was the infamous Tri-state tornado [wikipedia.org], a tornado or perhaps chain of tornados, which left a path of destruction 234 miles long, as much as a mile wide (plus apparently damage further away due to heavy winds that extended significantly beyond the tornado itself), and lasted for around 3.5 hours. More importantly, it killed almost 700 people in an area not known for its population densities.

            I think the amount of physical damage for this remarkable tornado is comparable to the worst of hurricanes or cycl
        • by onepoint (301486)

          While I do not agree with your equivalency rating, if a 5 is coming, then we should be looking at land surface area affected and evacuation issues. a Cat 5 will make entire coastlines for 50 mile ( from landing point ) evacuate. While an F5 will make entire cities evacuate. Depending on where you are, we are looking at a 3 times multiplier for the Hurricane. if an F5 hits a big midwest city, were are looking at a displacement of about 250,000 people with about 100 miles of losses, if a Cat 5 comes around, w

      • by Zephyn (415698) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @03:28PM (#40921511)

        Once an F5 tornado pulls the roof off the server building, you'll really see how data migrates into the cloud.

      • The issue goes beyond the immediate area of the storm though (no matter how big) since the affected datacenter serves the world. If all (or a significant portion) of your servers are in one basket and that basket is offline, destroyed or just dark, it impacts people and businesses in other areas who would not otherwise be affected by the storm. Now suddenly the economic and social impact of a natural disaster is magnified just because it happened to hit one of these concentrated data centers.
        • There is the possibility you speak of. The data center is connected to the world (if well designed) through multiple routes with multiple carriers, who hopefully didn't use the same pipe or pole to mount their gear.

          The amplification comes from context. There are low and high priority applications, and those used for entertainment. Communications like email, public safety, asset protection, all need to survive (no matter whose assets). Your streaming video can wait. But there are very few "concentrated" data

      • by HiThere (15173)

        Well, the real problem with this article is that just about every location has environmental problems that can get so bad that no company is going to pay enough to withstand them.

        Just consider tornados, earthquakes, blizzards, and anything else that could take down the power grid and/or communications. Yes, Hurricanes can get bad. So can all of the others. And even if your data center survives, if your power and/or communications are down, it doesn't solve the problem.

        The only real solution is dispersed

        • There are all sorts of reasons to provoke anxiety, but using a simple spreadsheet and modeling what happens will allow you to arrive at a fact-based decision. That's all you can do.

          Enormous resources are available online for disaster recovery, planning for contingencies, how to deal with public safety, how to model differing scenarios, and so forth. Tons. There are monthly publications dedicated to this. The facts and war stories are known. But pageviews are pageviews. It all helps to prove the aphorism tha

    • by 228e2 (934443)
      Yes.

      Because this is slashdot, news for nerds. News relating to technology. Go to cnn for main news. Would you chide epsn for talking about the game cancellations of a hurricane? No, they report on sports news, relax.
    • Well, more that possibility that people may lose important data they don't have local copies of.

      Is there a particular reason that shouldn't be among our worries if a natural disaster strikes?
    • by Gerzel (240421)

      Aye. It is somewhat idiotic to worry about 'if' such a storm could. It is plainly obviuos that such a storm could take down a datacenter and almost certainly would if its path tracked across a few datacenters.

      The real question is how would such a storm affect the network?

      How many datacenters would be taken down and if they would be acceptable losses given this type of event. A single datacenter should be of little concern when it comes to the stability of the Internet as a whole, even when concerning a l

      • by Isaac-1 (233099)

        See New Orleans when Katrina hit in 2005, as luck and poor planning would have it New Orleans, being the largest city in Louisiana, is where Bell South had located their central switching system, this had a direct effect on the ability of people to make long distance phone calls hundreds of miles away over a multi-state area, I live about 250 mile from New Orleans in an area that did not even get any significant rain from Katrina and our ability to even make local cell to landline calls was at best spotty f

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      A Cat 5 impacts the East Coast and we are worried that Facebook or Amazon might be down?

      Meh. Cat 5's are on the low side of risk for us here on the east coast of north america and it should be treated as such, there should be plans. But let's be honest, that bout of severe t-storms and high winds the blew through in the US from the derecho a bit back knocked Amazon offline. But we can see really severe winters, and I'm not talking about the snow. I'm talking about the freezing rain.

    • A Cat 5 impacts the East Coast and we are worried that Facebook or Amazon might be down?

      Without Facebook, how else would I know about the cat5???

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      The worry isn't facebook and amazon, the worry is your iTunes collection, family photos, enterprise data stored in the cloud, etc.

      As to the question posed, I'd say only if the folks who built the data centers were idiots. If they were competent the building itself will withstand high winds and be high enough for flooding not to occur, and will have a backup power supply or two.

      Of course, if a tornado rips through (as often happens in hurricanes), nothing is safe. I was in one in 2006 (and in a hurricane in [slashdot.org]

    • A Cat 5 impacts the East Coast and we are worried that Facebook or Amazon might be down?

      Well, sure. If Facebook is down, I can't update my profile with pictures of the tree that crushed my house.

  • You may or may not believe in global warming causing hurricanes, but if it could take down a good part of internet then is a cyberthreat, could be even seen as cyberterrorism. What country we should invade this time to prevent that danger?
    • by PFactor (135319)
      Did you notice Iran is getting off the Internet? I think you know the answer to your question... /s
    • Global warming is caused by man building huge coal powered data centers, Earth sends hurricanes to destroy data centers, life on planet is saved.
      • Thank you for the sudden and entirely unwelcome steampunk-esque vision of some battered guy covered in soot shoveling coal in to a raging furnace with arcane pipes running to filthy server racks.
        • by Muad'Dave (255648)

          Reminds me of one of my first network hub installations (yes, hubs). The only place to mount a stack of hubs [cnet.com] was in the furnace room - an ancient oil-fired furnace that belched soot on every startup. To say the least the innards of those hubs were _disgusting_ in a very short while.

  • I live in Virginia. Yes, hurricanes do a decent amount of damage on a regular basis (oddly, my internet is more resilient than my power - I can hook up a generator and still get internet).

    But everywhere has a risk. West coast has earthquakes. Midwest has tornadoes. Northeast has blizzards and nor'easters. Maybe some are less of a hazard, or are more mitigate-able, but nowhere is "safe". Or at least, no affordable place is "safe". There's just varying amounts of danger.

    • by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @02:04PM (#40920509)

      West coast has earthquakes. Midwest has tornadoes. Northeast has blizzards and nor'easters

      There is quite a lot of geologically stable space entirely lacking in natural disasters between "West" and "Midwest". Like all of Utah and Colorado and New Mexico and Arizona (leaving out Wyoming because of the supervolcano).

      Locating in Virginia probably gives them a cheaper supply of power though.

      Hardening against a cat5 hurricane is probably a decent tradeoff for them.

      • by crow (16139)

        Yup, and some places are pretty stable and have cheap power, which is why, for example, The Dalles, Oregon, has become popular for datacenters. The only real risk there is if Mount Hood decides to follow Mount St. Hellens example.

        If I were evaluating locations for a datacenter, I would consider Boise, Idaho. Yes, you would want to do some extra securing of the racks in case of earthquake (rarer than California, but not unheard of), but besides that, there's not much to worry about.

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        >>>leaving out Wyoming because of the supervolcano

        If the supervolcano went off, the only states that would still be livable are the three Pacific ones. People living in Utah or Colorado or Arizona might survive the initial blow, but will die of ash inhalation a few days later. Same with everyone east of the supervolcano. ----- Even without the volcano I wouldn't say Utah Colorado Arizona are safe. Utah, Arizona often get hit with droughts. Colorado has huge snowstorms that leave people trappe

        • If the supervolcano went off, the only states that would still be livable are the three Pacific ones.

          The rest of the states can give up if they like. Colorado will be just fine thanks. 20 feet of ash? Not an issue. We'll become the new capital of the U.S. if you want to huddle in fear.

          You estimate is way off though, just look at projected ash fall maps... most of the country is OK, including both coasts.

          Colorado has huge snowstorms that leave people trapped in their homes.

          HA HA HA HA HA HA HAH AH HO HE

        • A lot of Virginia and North Carolina's power supplied by Dominion power comes from other cheap sources like nuclear and natural gas...Dominon's full list of power generataing stations: https://www.dom.com/about/stations/index.jsp [dom.com] The North Anna Nuclear Power Station is about 40-50 miles from Ashburn, VA home to data centers for Amazon, Google, Verizon, and AOL. All of these DCs have complicated sets of diesel generators (even if Amazon's took it's DC down during maintenance). I'd be most worried if the
        • by Isaac-1 (233099)

          This is only partly true, unfortunately most of the potential ash cloud maps are misleading since they show the total potential footprint regardless of seasonal wind patterns, and are partly based on historical data. The real footprint would likely be an area about 1/3 of the potential footprint, the exact length, width and direction dependent upon prevailing winds at the time of the eruption. (translation, If the eruption happened in the winter time the footprint would range from Wy to the gulf coast, ho

      • by MightyYar (622222)

        Arizona, Colorado, and Utah have wildfires.

        Utah has tornadoes (even in Salt Lake City).

        New Mexico has terrible flooding when hit by a Hurricane.

        Arizona has had earthquakes.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        North Carolina and Virginia are not at risk from a Category 5 Hurricane. A category 5 hurricane has never made landfall in North Carolina or Virginia, as a category 5 storm. The worst was a Category 2 landfall in 1960 and 2003, and only in North Carolina.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Category_5_Atlantic_hurricanes#Landfalls [wikipedia.org]

        • by fnj (64210)

          On the one hand, you're the only one on this page who gets it. On the other hand, past performance is not ALWAYS a reliable guide to future results.

      • by gman003 (1693318)

        Wildfires do a lot of damage - and those *can* destroy a datacenter, not just disable one. Then there's droughts, which if severe enough can disable water-cooled datacenters.

      • by rssrss (686344)

        The sweet spot is probably in a zone of about 100 mi to the west of the Appalachian mountains. Think of the area between Pittsburgh and Columbus. Columbus is the very eastern edge of tornado alley. East of there the ground is too rough to allow sizable tornadoes. The area has excellent geologic stability. And there is lots of coal fired generating capacity.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      well, there's plenty of areas which have not been hit by "OMG HOUSES FLYING WALL OF ICE PENETRATING CEILING" catastrophes.

      There's even places which had avoided even man made firestorms. Like, Sweden.

      I don't think it matters that much if they're down for a day though, or two. and it's unlikely these discussed data centers would get completely wiped out.

    • Midwest has tornadoes.

      We have a solution for that. [springfiel...ground.com]

  • Probably not. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GodInHell (258915) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @01:56PM (#40920385) Homepage
    First, these companies probably have catastrophic recovery plans in place. Amazon, in particular, is not know for just sitting around leaving its business blowing in the wind.

    Second, the loss might slow down the internet, but unless the data hosted at these data centers was unique (which is unlikely) then the other data sites just pick up the slack. Again, that might be slower, but it wouldn't result in loss of data or "teh internet." That is to say, they will act like every other functional part of the internet, route around the damage and carry on.
    • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

      It is more expensive to cross availability zones with Amazon, so many sites (foolishly) do not have geographic diversity.

  • A regular cloud yes, but not an iCloud.
  • by na1led (1030470) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @01:59PM (#40920421)
    I've never heard of a major cloud storage facility that would keep all their servers in one location. They usually have all their data backed up to remote locations, usually far from their main site. We are taking about Amazon, and Google here, not Black Berry RIM. I'm sure their data is safe.
    • On such optimism are quotas met.

    • by SecurityGuy (217807) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @02:13PM (#40920613)

      This is actually one of the major risks with "cloud". When you run your own data centers, you can touch the hardware, talk to the people, and check behind them to make sure things are actually being done right. In the worst case with cloud, you simply trust that "their data is safe", when in fact it might not be at all. In the less bad case, you get a nice contract with SLAs that specify exactly what data being safe means, and what recourse you have if they blow it. This is still not great, because if the past 5 years have taught you nothing else, they should have taught you that YES companies will make bets that end their business if they bet wrong.

      I wouldn't say don't use the so-called cloud providers. Just don't naively believe they're doing everything right just because they haven't had a catastrophic failure or screwed up YOUR data yet.

      • by hawguy (1600213)

        This is actually one of the major risks with "cloud". When you run your own data centers, you can touch the hardware, talk to the people, and check behind them to make sure things are actually being done right. In the worst case with cloud, you simply trust that "their data is safe", when in fact it might not be at all. In the less bad case, you get a nice contract with SLAs that specify exactly what data being safe means, and what recourse you have if they blow it. This is still not great, because if the past 5 years have taught you nothing else, they should have taught you that YES companies will make bets that end their business if they bet wrong.

        I wouldn't say don't use the so-called cloud providers. Just don't naively believe they're doing everything right just because they haven't had a catastrophic failure or screwed up YOUR data yet.

        Few customers have the knowledge and experience to touch the hardware and see if it's "done right". If they had that much expertise in-house, they'd probably just set it up themselves.

        But for the vast majority of customers that just want someplace to host a few servers, nearly any cloud provider is going to be better than doing it themselves. Category 5 hurricanes are rare, local power failures and ISP outages are much more common and that's what's going to take down most do-it-yourself small-time hosters t

        • by dcw3 (649211)

          Few customers have the knowledge and experience to touch the hardware and see if it's "done right". If they had that much expertise in-house, they'd probably just set it up themselves.

          Okay, I don't have any data to back this up, do you? I know that in our case, our customers see the cloud buzzword, and so marketing puts it into the proposals, and since it's normally less expensive to outsource this, we end up going that route. It has nothing to do with our own lack of expertise, just that we're too cheap to pay for our own. Think of it like this...I can mow my own lawn, but I choose to pay the kid down the street because my time is more valuable than what it costs to pay him.

          • by hawguy (1600213)

            Few customers have the knowledge and experience to touch the hardware and see if it's "done right". If they had that much expertise in-house, they'd probably just set it up themselves.

            Okay, I don't have any data to back this up, do you? I know that in our case, our customers see the cloud buzzword, and so marketing puts it into the proposals, and since it's normally less expensive to outsource this, we end up going that route. It has nothing to do with our own lack of expertise, just that we're too cheap to pay for our own. Think of it like this...I can mow my own lawn, but I choose to pay the kid down the street because my time is more valuable than what it costs to pay him.

            I have my company as a datapoint. We have a few dozen servers to colocate -- one or two rack's worth.

            Even if we wanted to build a datacenter, we don't have staff on hand that undertstand enough about datacenter design and maintenance to run it. We don't even have a CCIE to provide us with a reliable, scalable internet connection across multiple carriers, nor do we have any cost effective way to bring internet connections from multiple carriers without running them all through the same half mile of conduit.

    • by hawguy (1600213)

      I've never heard of a major cloud storage facility that would keep all their servers in one location. They usually have all their data backed up to remote locations, usually far from their main site. We are taking about Amazon, and Google here, not Black Berry RIM. I'm sure their data is safe.

      When the cloud storage provider is quite clear about what level of redundancy they provide, you probably shouldn't assume anything -- read what they are providing.

      Amazon is quite clear about the distinction between availability zones and regions, and if you're going to host your critical app somewhere, you should probably understand what you're paying for.

      I'm sure there are cloud providers that will give you the level of redundancy you're seeking, but probably not at the same price that Amazon charges.

    • by tgd (2822)

      Cloud storage is less of an issue than the cloud hosted services. High availability, even in the cloud, has to be architected into the software.

      Vanishingly few people know how to build robust systems like that. From direct experience with a good number of the, say, "top 100" cloud services -- very few of them are designed well. Amazon, Google, Microsoft... *their* software running in their clouds continue working (at least in aggregate) when there are data center failures. You may have transient regional ou

  • by hawguy (1600213) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @01:59PM (#40920431)

    Anyone that hosts their entire web presence at Amazon Virginia (especially after the other outages they've had), or really, in any single Amazon region is getting what they pay for and what they deserve if there's a regional disaster.

    It's not hard or expensive to have a cold- or warm- spare site in a different region ready to take over (even if it's a manual cutover), especially since Amazon's new(ish) US-West region in Oregon is the same price as US-East.

    I like that Amazon lets me pay for the level of redundancy I need - a small bump for multiple availability zone within a single region redundancy, with a larger bump for multiple region redundancy. Not everything I do needs to ride out an East Coast hurricane, but for those things that do, it's really not hard to have a backup site in a different region.

  • by VoiceOfSanity (716713) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @02:07PM (#40920547)
    First off, a Category 5 hurricane is highly unlikely striking that region of the country. Historically, there have been only three confirmed Category 5 landfalls, two of them in Florida and one in Mississippi (the 1935 Labor Day hurricane in Florida, Hurricane Camille in 1969 and Hurricane Andrew in 1992.) There has been Category 4 storms that have struck the Cape Hatteras area, and South Carolina did have Hurricane Hugo in 1989. But the odds of a Category 5 hitting that specific region of the US is extremely low.

    Additionally, these data centers are not located along the coastline, but a significant distance inland. Facebook's is west of Charlotte, while Amazon's located west of Washington DC. Of the list, the Amazon one that could... and I mean could be impacted by a hurricane, but there really hasn't been a good strike in the Chesapeake Bay area in a while. They were taken down by the derechos that rolled through last month, and a derecho could happen pretty much anywhere west of the Rockies.

    So while the chances of a hurricane taking down one of the datacenters is low, it could happen. It's one reason you don't see data centers built anywhere within 150 miles of the Gulf Coast or in Florida as a whole, the entire region is a target zone for Mother Nature. (Disclaimer: I've lived along the Gulf Coast now for over 30+ years and have been through a Category 5, two Category 4 and a host of other hurricanes over my time.)
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm sure it's been mentioned, but Terremark's Miami datacenter is about 3 blocks from the port (inland from Government Cut and the American Airlines Arena where the Heat play.) They show you DNS root servers when taking the tour. If I have to guess it's also where the major tubes from Latin America enter the country.

    • by mjr167 (2477430)
      I think Katrina demonstrated that a properly aimed cat 3 can do tons of damage. But, we might as well ask the question "Are we prepared for a tanker truck full of hydrogen to crash into Amazon's datacenter?"
      • I think Katrina demonstrated that a properly aimed cat 3 can do tons of damage.

        Along the coastline and in low lying areas - yes. On higher ground and far from the coast (I.E. where Amazon and Facebook's servers are).... not so much.

      • by fnj (64210)

        The unnamed New England hurricane of 1938 also demonstrated that.

    • There are at least three major commercial data centers located within one square mile of downtown Miami alone. More than a dozen in the greater South Florida area. Tampa, Jacksonville, Gainesville, Orlando, etc. all have plenty of data centers as well. I would imagine there are a few in the Titusville area, what with NASA and all...

      No data centers in "Florida as a whole"?

  • Here we have a risk that requires mitigation. If you owned the facilities in question you would know your disaster preparedness and would know how much effort you are willing and able to put into enhancing it.

    But since you don't own these facilities you have to trust the companies that do own them to do what you would do (or better). The only real controls you have are in negotiating the initial contract (regarding SLAs, especially) and in designing your system to withstand a failure of one company to
    • by Quila (201335)

      Here we have a risk that requires mitigation.

      Not necessarily. When looked at in isolation, they may accept the risk. Given that the likelihood of a CAT5 in the Northeast is absurdly low given history, the equation may well come out to simply accepting the risk when bounced against the costs of mitigation. But most likely they've already mitigated the risk of any "total destruction" event by having a backup datacenter regardless of this one extreme "what if" scenario generated by global warming panic.

    • by Whuffo (1043790)

      If their risk analysis is as good as the ones being touted here, they're in real trouble

      I retired to a tropical island a few years back and I'm quite familiar with what a hurricane (we call them typhoons) can do. The winds can be quite destructive, but the real damage comes from the rain. Flooding of near biblical proportion is quite possible.

      Altitude isn't going to prevent flooding and unless the building is watertight, the servers are going to drown. Even if it is, those diesel generators - how well do yo

  • They already have (Score:5, Informative)

    by John Jorsett (171560) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @02:31PM (#40920815)

    A few years back I belatedly discovered (the hard way) that my web hoster had located its servers in Hurricane Alley. My site was down for over a week as they trucked their server farm to a new location because the local utilities weren't going to be back until God knew when. I've since been paying attention to where things are located, physically, and anything that might be threatening to that area.

  • The internet will be largely unaffected: the amorphous network of routers which makes up the internet is specifically designed to route around damage like this. The internet will be fine. The web, on the other hand, could suffer a large loss of access to content.

  • We discussed this a few weeks ago, when the AWS US-east availability zone puked (of it's own accord, no hurricane's required). If you had stuff that lived only there (a single EC2 instance and no ELB, for example), you were screwed. This does not change the fact that "the cloud" (defined as a particular set of services that are readily available from AWS, and probably others) can survive the loss of this or that location just fine. Note that just having the word "cloud" in the name of this or that service d
  • Any cloud services should be geographically redundant such that any disaster anywhere in the country would not affect 'cloud' based services.

  • The biggest issue in a windstorm event is (tornado or hurricane), is likely going to be damage to the support infrastructure, and possibly generator fuel. For example the external heat exchangers mounted outside the building would likely be blown away or damaged, thus effecting the datacenter's ability to keep cool. Also if the datacenter has an external fuel tank or external generator those could be damaged and made inoperable.

    In a very large hurricane scenario I'd think that fuel deliveries might be pro

    • by couchslug (175151)

      Building a datacenter like a HAS (Hardened Aircraft Shelter) is practical, as is mounting heat exchangers in steel boxes or enclosures with large doors. HAS typically have steel liners with reinforced concrete poured over them.

      ISO container data centers could easily be joined with genset and fuel storage containers then potted in concrete. Large fuel tanks are easy to do, underground and out of harms way.

      It's not about limits of protective tech, but how much is considered worth spending on one installation.

  • by Local ID10T (790134) <ID10T.L.USER@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @03:07PM (#40921245) Homepage

    I have my business data hosted primary in Somoma/Napa CA (wine country), a secondary in Monterrey CA (wine & beach), another on the big island of Hawaii (pacific island), and I am really thinking of adding a server in southern Louisiana -probably New Orleans. It is a bit rough having to take a long weekend and go check that the colo is maintaining infrastructure as per our agreement, but as long as I keep checking on one every couple months it is liveable...

    Seriously though, keep your data in multiple locations, keep multiple backups, and don't worry too much about any one going offline -just as long as they don't all go offline at once.

  • This seems a silly topic. We've recently seen what a bad thunderstorm [wired.com] can do. Of course a Cat 5 is a risk, don't ask stupid questions.

  • Has anyone ever used the term "Eastern Seaboard" outside of the movies? It gets under my skin, the cliche use of that term in all the movies, and yet I never hear it used anywhere else.
  • "Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word 'no' ".

    This is high school journalism, Slashdot. Pick up the pace a little.

  • Asking if [some natural disaster] could adversely affect [some technology], is pretty much one of the most vapid questions a person can ask.

    Can a [flood] take out the [Asian semiconductor industry]?
    Can an [earthquake] take out a [bridge]?
    Can a [tsunami] take out a [nuclear reactor]?
    Can an [iceberg] take out the [Titanic]?

    The bigger question to ask is, "Do those in charge of these technologies assume they are impervious to natural disaster?" If the answer is yes then invest elsewhere or sell short and never

  • If the data center is built with the correct architectural planning and resilience, then no it shouldn't affect it at all. these are the same centers that withstood the Earthquake and the horrendous storms recently. Granted that Amazon was a casualty of the storms, but there were so many other organizations that ran without a single hiccup. this is the reason yo want to load balance your service across geographically separate areas. its highly unlikely that a hurricane is nailing your east coast center the

Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.

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