East Coast data centers struggle to stay up and running in the wake of the storm.
A few months ago, Inc.com wrote about a study that reported most Americans believed “the cloud” had to do with the weather--not technology. After some massive data center and cell tower outages in the wake of hurricane Sandy, maybe they're not too far off.
According to updates from Huffington Post, federal regulators estimate that Sandy has impaired a quarter of the cell towers across 10 states. As a result, mobile access to the cloud will be difficult in these areas. The Federal Communications Commission says that the cell towers still functioning in the area are running on generators and could run out of fuel before full power is restored--causing further connectivity delays.
Many data centers in New York City were in Sandy’s line of fire, too. InformationWeek reported that Peer1 Hosting, a server station that configures cloud solutions for businesses (including the Wordpress blogging platform), is one of many cloud-focused data companies located in and around Battery Park (part of Zone A--an area under mandatory evacuation). By Tuesday, a number of the city’s datacenters--including Peer1 and Datagram (which supports popular New York-based blogs like Gawker.com)--ran out of generator power and were forced to shut down. IT company Internap was forced to shut down its cloud services, as well.
“It is unclear how long it will take ConEd to restore utility power to the site, but we are preparing for the possibility of remaining on generator power for many days," Internap’s Steve Orchard wrote in a blog post.
So far, the overall data damage is unknown.
One of the big benefits of the cloud is usually the fact that it lets businesses avoid storing data on in-house physical servers that are susceptible to natural disasters. But the data has to be stored somewhere. It turns out, the cloud was no match for the storm of the century.
MAEGHAN OUIMET is a business and culture reporter whose work has appeared in Boston Magazine and Rolling Stone. She covers technology start-ups and innovations from the San Francisco bureau for Inc.com. @MaeghanO