While digging my way out of a foot of snow last Friday, I couldn’t help but think of the folks in the Northeastern US who were the next to be pummeled by Winter storm Nemo…except to the tune of 30+ inches of accumulation in some areas. Harkening back to several notable electrical and tropical storms last year that caused the temporary (and in some cases, prolonged) unavailability of many popular and important websites, I began to wonder if this historic snowstorm could cause similar complications for datacenters and managed hosting providers that are still recuperating from such weather-related complications in 2012.
While weather remains an unpredictable variable that is not often among primary considerations when choosing where to host your data, major downtime and its ensuing consequences (lost revenue, security concerns, etc.) such as those experienced by Netflix, Instagram and Pinterest (along with many popular websites who had never experienced a significant outage prior to these storms) in 2012, can be avoided by doing so. Specifically, considering these three simple items prior to choosing a host can prove the difference between nervously monitoring weather reports and having the peace of mind to take care of business as usual when a storm is approaching the location in which your data is hosted:
1. Will my data be stored at a location at high risk for potential natural disaster and/or extreme weather events?
Liquid Web has gone to great lengths to ensure that its data centers are built in Disaster Neutral areas. These hubs currently include Michigan datacenters and Arizona datacenters in the United States. This type of strategic positioning provides a strong foundation and, as the company continues to expand, locating as far as possible from areas susceptible to natural disasters will always remain a key initiative.
2. Does my potential host have the ability to store my data in two different geographic locations?
Providing Geographic Redundancy has been a goal of Liquid Web’s growth from day one. Since launching our US West location in 2012, many users have found tremendous benefit in hosting fully redundant data in multiple locations. Not only can our customers store data closer to end-users at multiple points on the globe while controlling their infrastructure through a single interface and support system, but they are also safeguarded against downtime should the remote possibility of a disaster manifest and affect the geographic location in which their data is hosted. Liquid Web is in in the process of worldwide growth that will only serve to expand upon the benefits of this enviable hosting privilege as it develops.
3. Will my potential host have varied, long-term and significant redundant power options to fall back on in the event of the most extreme power outage?
Building our own datacenters has allowed Liquid Web to engineer an extremely resilient and extensive fault tolerance system that has been developed to be immune to the type of disasters that recently plagued providers such as AWS and Datagram, most notably. The majority of large providers will tout failover systems and backup power sources, however, Liquid Web’s facilities boast fault-tolerance built, not only across every layer, but in many physical locations. Investigating some of the most high profile outages in recent years reveals that many of the major providers at fault simply fell victim to multiple backup power sources being located in the same in the same area. If that area is subjected to damaging effects, multiple sources of backup power become useless. In addition to these measures, we take great care to regularly simulate disaster scenarios and ensure every single point in our system is up-to-date and functioning properly.
In the midst of digging my way out of the snowy barriers Mother Nature left between Liquid Web’s Michigan headquarters and me, I took great comfort in knowing that not only would our operations be humming along in the midst of myriad local business and school closures, but also that the data I host there as a client, myself, would be available to those who have come to depend upon it. While many are tempted to gamble on bargain hosts who don’t make it clear where your data will be hosted, days like last Friday remind me that, sometimes, peace of mind is priceless.