As the hurricane raged over the US East Coast this week the world shivered at the thought of a possible disaster. Sandy, the Frankenstorm, slowly withdrew leaving an irreparable damage and chaos behind. The citizens of the areas affected will definitively need considerable time (and money) to take everything back as it once was. However, in some aspects it could have been worse.
As Sandy came closer it cut the power supplies and caused a collapse of communication channels. Major datacenters located in the East Coast suffered considerable impacts and many web services were taken down. This is why many wandered what would have happened if there wasn’t for the cloud – this is the place where so much important data is, after all.
Cloud providers scatter user data across different datacenters and this is often considered to be a great disaster plan. Sandy was in a way a final test for this. Though it managed to flood some facilities and caused much damage to wired, cable and mobile networks it couldn’t cause a complete data loss. Datacenter floods and website downtimes were expected since the storm was announced and GigaOM neatly and accurately reported about the outages in datacenter sites and collocation centers as they happened. This report may serve as a ground for drawing conclusions about the actual size of the damaged done.
Some of giant companies’ server farms are located in the area impacted by the hurricane and all eyes were set on these. As here even some small outages may cause too much trouble, many users feared that Sandy may cause a complete breakdown. Though the damage is definitively huge, there are still reasons to thank the cloud it didn’t get worse. Here is how cloud datacenters helped reduce the negative impact of the superstorm:
- Cloud server farms are built to resist even the harshest weather conditions and have worked-out emergency plans in cases of flood, fire or – hurricane. Their infrastructure is well prepared for such situations and it may be one of the most important differentiators from on-premise data centers.
- Providers had enough time to prepare. Huge datacenters have backup generators they operate on in cases of an outage. Now they had enough time to prepare greater amounts of fuel as well as to move data from threatened datacenters to geographically distant ones. Nirvanix even offered consumers to move their data to other datacenters for free some time before the storm.
- Data recovery. With all the backups of user data cloud providers store in their servers the possibility of losing them, even in the case of a disaster, is minimal. Even the companies whose physical data centers were destroyed by Sandy will be able to fully retract their data form online backup services.
Cloud storage services are often recommended for their possibilities to keep the data safe even in the cases of disaster. Now the Sandy is gone and it is strikingly clear how it could have been worse if there wasn’t for the cloud. Considering the value of information today it is obvious how important it is to have good backup systems for corporate and otherwise valuable data because disasters like Sandy are reality.