Be warned: This will be a rant.
Here at QuoteColo we love everything about data center technologies, we love everything about dedicated servers, Cloud hosting, managed dedicated servers, VPS hosting and colocation. We are colocation nerds who love nothing more than a debate over the cool air management system in place to handle the load of four half racks placed back to back. It’s a hypothetical, we know. But we still love it.
This said, the one aspect of colocation and data center solutions which really annoys us is the lack of colocation and web hosting data center providers who offer their customers with backup data center facilities designed for geographically diverse data replication. In an industry based on redundant methods and practices (redundant cooling, redundant power, redundant security), why providers have failed to grasp and supply redundant data center locations is beyond us.
The Premise for Redundant Backup Data Center Facilities
The premise for this rant is simple: slightly more than a year ago, Hurricane Sandy made landfall on lower Manhattan. For those of you who forgot, Hurricane Sandy caused Manhattan and various parts of New Jersey to undergo horrible financial and physical damage. Lower Manhattan is called Lower Manhattan for two reasons: a) it’s the lower part of the ManhattanIsland and b) it sits only slightly above sea level. Lower Manhattan, like Miami, is located in precarious geographical locations in relation to rising sea levels and the growing ferocity of storms.
Part of the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy came in the form of the flooding and disabling of multiple data centers located in Lower Manhattan. This flooding caused multiple large-scale websites (see BuzzFeed) to undergo massive and immediate downtime. While the Northern East Coast of the United States was trying to turn the lights back on, websites like BuzzFeed were busy trying to figure out how to transfer their web hosting needs from their flooded data center colocation provider to another provider who was high and dry. In the end, BuzzFeed opted to move their servers and colocation needs to the Amazon Cloud.
The basic idea here is simple: all too often, colocation data center facilities market their web hosting services as fully redundant yet they fail to alert consumers to the lack of data redundancy within, more specifically, outside of their facility.
Geographically Diverse Data Center Locations
Let’s say your data center provider is located in New York City. You choose this colocation web hosting provider because you’re company is located in Connecticut and low latency rates are important to you. Like Hurricane Sandy, let’s say your data center fails due to an inundation of seawater. This means your companies IT needs are offline. However, if your provider had access to a geographically diverse data center in which your company IT data was constantly replicated, your provider could weather the storm by supplying you with uptime from a different data center located across the nation. It has to be said, for data replication within geographically diverse data centers to work an auxiliary data center has to be located outside of the same electrical grid as the main data center. More to the point, a redundant backup facility should be located a few hundred miles away to ensure no natural disaster could ever take both locations offline at the same time.
In a data center world defined by uptime and around the clock always running services, the idea of investing in a colocation data center provider who doesn’t utilize geographically diverse data centers for data redundancy is simply insane.