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Almost everything—from shopping online, going through a toll booth, or submitting a report—creates digital information stored in data centres. And almost everything a business does, from updating the intranet, to archiving a document, to updating software, requires access to information stored in a data centre.

Therefore, disaster preparedness is crucial as it impacts an organisation’s ability to operate in a 24/7 environment by mitigating the effects of a disaster on business continuity.

“The reasons for implementing a disaster preparedness and recovery plan vary in range, from the tangible aspects of protecting human life, to the broader business implications: recovering critical operations, protecting the competitive position of the company, preserving the trust of the client and protecting the company against potential litigation,” said Miguel Duluc, Alliance and Premier Account Representative, Secure Power Division, Energy Management Business at APC by Schneider Electric.

In the middle of the hurricane season, it is vital to place heavy focus on the preparation phase. This allows companies an easier approach, evaluation and reaction to a specific emergency and guarantee that operational and safety precautions are taken so that recovery can take place quickly and efficiently.

“The first step is to understand the different types of failures that can affect a mission-critical facility: design, catastrophic, aggravating, and human error failures. By becoming familiar with them, data centre operators can design a better plan, identify a disaster situation, and initiate appropriate recovery steps. Secondly, it is important to consider a series of situational assessments that include identifying and assessing hazard-prone areas, estimating vulnerability to a disaster, and measuring the risk of such a situation. Disaster recovery, fire safety, alarm, and back-up power systems should also be evaluated. APC has an advisory service through which it accompanies companies throughout this journey,” said Duluc.

Data centres are generally designed to remain operational during disasters. If necessary, operators should consider storing fuel for back-up generators and have basic items such as clean water, first aid kits, flashlights and batteries ready. In addition, they must keep information, such as emergency contacts and facility asset lists, up-to-date and in an easily accessible location. Once the contingency plan has been developed, it must undergo rigorous testing to ensure that it will work effectively.

A viable plan could lower data centre costs, keep the business operational, and avoid financial losses due to downtime. “A highly available infrastructure is the result of many parties involved, including electricians and engineers, planners, plumbers, business executives, cleaning crews, technicians, managers, and maintenance crews. The infrastructure provider of a data centre company must work to organise and coordinate the efforts of these groups to ensure that the facility provides the performance and availability required during normal operations and in the event of a disaster,” said Duluc.

As data centres become increasingly reliable and evolve from cost centres into business enablers, mitigating downtime will be more important than ever.

—Schneider Electric

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