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How to Prepare Your IT Infrastructure for Storm Season

by Bobby Salerno on August 11, 2020

Contribution by Steven Steffas from Vertiv

Now that we’re in the heat of summer it is important to remember that along with the rays, the summer months carry their own share of baggage: storm season. From June until late autumn, the United States peaks in terms of natural disasters and severe storms. The east coast of the United States deals with Atlantic Hurricane Season while the heartland is dealing with tornadoes. If you travel across America to the west coast, they are combating their own Pacific Hurricane Season and dangerous wildfires. No one is truly immune to every degree of destruction.

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According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there is a 60% chance that this year’s hurricane season will have above-normal levels of activity. The NOAA is predicting a total of 13 to 19 named storms, of which up to 10 can evolve into hurricanes. In 2017 alone, 10 million Americans were affected by power outages from hurricanes alone, but other forms of severe weather and natural disasters can also affect power.

Weather is responsible for nearly half of all power outages in the United States. Not only is it important to prepare your family and home, but it is important to prepare your business and IT infrastructure as well. Power outages are one of the leading causes of data loss and infrastructure failure.

According to Gartner, the average cost of network downtime equates to $5600/minute based on industry surveys. If you remove large organizations and outliers, the average cost of network downtime equates to $1200/minute for the average midsize company according to BizTech Magazine. When coupled with the fact that companies suffer 16 to 20 hours of network, system, or application downtime per year (on average); outages can cost you or your customer over one million dollars in a calendar year. Therefore, it is important to take preventative measures when dealing with your business’ or your customer’s IT infrastructure.

The first step in taking preventative measures is doing a complete infrastructure assessment. It is important to check all UPS, cooling equipment, power generation, rack configuration, and monitoring devices. Luckily, Vertiv offers a free risk assessment of your data centers, server rooms, MDFs, and IDFs. The second step is determining how much your organization can afford to lose. You must determine how much downtime is acceptable and what the effect is on your bottom line.

You can minimize infrastructure risk during storm season by calculating your recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective targets (RTO). Your RPO is a period in which an enterprise must be restored following a disruptive event. Your RTO is the maximum time to restore critical functions following a disruptive event. It is important to consider which segments of your infrastructure are considered more vital.

You should also take the preventative measure of utilizing a failover power source for your data center or network closet. For some organizations, this means routing power to an external facility that isn’t affected, and for other businesses this means utilizing a simple uninterruptible power supply (UPS) like the Vertiv™ Liebert® PSI5 Lithium-Ion UPS. Choosing lithium-ion technology will ultimately result in longer runtime, 2x battery life, and a lower total cost of ownership.

As remote work becomes more prevalent with the emergence of COVID-19 it is important to plan for the future as well. Vertiv’s Desktop UPS is a perfect choice for at home workers’ failover power. Essential networks can be protected from disruption with an offline UPS, which allow time for shutdown procedures and protect key equipment from damage. It will also allow critical infrastructure to stay online during shorter outages.

Once you’ve implemented your disaster recovery plan, you should consistently test the boundaries of your plan. This includes properly training employees, establishing a protocol for when disaster inevitably strikes. Vertiv recommends testing your disaster recovery plan at least once per year or after any significant change to the IT environment.

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Topics: Infrastructure vertiv it infrastructure

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