Texas Data Center Operations Experts Talk Preparing Teams for Disaster

Nov 2, 2017
by Josh Anderson

DALLAS, TX — Disaster recovery, and how to prepare your team for the unexpected, is always an essential part of any data center operations conversation. However, with recent developments in Houston, Florida, and Northern California within such a close timeframe, this topic has become much more salient in CapRE’s panel discussions. At our Texas Data Center Sumamit earlier this month in Dallas, we heard from two leaders in the Texas data center arena about what they think are the most essential things to remember when planning ahead for disaster recovery.

First up, we heard from Ken Smith, Director of Data Center Operations, Cyxtera Technologies. “I think that the number one thing is being prepared,” he said. “Having a team that is focused on disasters. As soon as you see a storm out in somewhere like Atlanta, that team needs to kick in.” Smith says that his team has found that being prepared at the very beginning of noticing a storm, having that team activated, having the right levels of alertness are key to a successful response.

“It’s similar to TelCo – you have your yellow, your orange, your red, and you notify your customers of exactly which level they are at, with definitions, so they can understand where you’re at with your preparation,” he continued.

Next we connected with Eddie Schutter, President at DCF Technologies. “When you think about preparing and planning, one of the things we encourage our customers to do is active, regular testing, quarterly at a minimum,” he offered. “Because what we have found… that operators need to be prepared. From our perspective, we must test and do both high and low transfer. Truly transfer low and high on a regular basis.”

That’s when you’re going to find that faulty breaker, or whatever gremlins are in that system, says Schutter. “And at least it can happen in a controlled situation, as opposed to when you’re depending on a resource that may otherwise be available becomes very scarce,” he explained. “In Houston, something that came back to us was that, even though data centers are engineered to step up, people can’t get to data centers.”

Therefore, according to Schutter, it’s critical to remember that there is always a human element to thinking ahead for disaster. “It’s making sure I think of my staff. I think of the families of my staff. Will I meet those needs as well?” he asked. “So it’s about Plan B – testing regularly, constantly learning from the testing that we’re doing, and continuously improving.”

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