Sunday, June 16, 2024

Hurricane Sandy Grounds the Cloud

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Hurricane Sandy didn’t just render many portions of Eastern Seaboard unrecognizable — the New Jersey shore in particular — it also put telecom and cloud services providers to the test. And for many, Sandy severed ties between the public and cloud providers.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the massive storm knocked out a sizeable chunk of the affected region’s cell networks, straining capacity. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said during a press call yesterday that 25 percent of the wireless carriers’ cell sites succumbed to Sandy.

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The outages spread across 158 counties and a total of 10 states stretching from Virginia north to Massachusetts. Cable operators fared no better. Roughly 25 percent of the customers served by the area’s cable companies were without cable services, particularly Internet access.

The disclosures, made by the communications companies as part of the FCC’s Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS), underscored the role of telecommunications providers in keeping customers connected to the cloud and Internet service providers.

For customers — this writer included — the service disruptions often made it difficult, if not impossible, to surf the Web for information, communicate via social media or use email. Voice calls frequently dropped out or simply failed to connect.

But keeping customers connected to their favorite sites, cloud services or each other wasn’t the only challenge posed by Hurricane Sandy. Data center operators were met with struggles of their own.

Peer 1’s network status page and Twitter feed reads like a harrowing saga, at least from an IT administrator’s perspective. The managed hosting provider, located at 75 Broad Street in lower Manhattan, is making a valiant effort to keep its customers’ sites online.

This morning, a status update illustrated the challenges of keeping web servers cool and connected to the internet amid power failures and street closures in one of the most densely populated areas of the country.

The company posted the following update: “As of 15:00ET Peer1 is still maintaining generator power for customers in Site 2. The temperature in Site 1 is starting to stabilize but we are still not bringing up the power due to our cooling system still down in site 1. The electrician is currently moving electrical circuits to get a portion of the CRAC units in site 1 online. We will contact those customers directly once we have these units online. Fuel is still good, we will provide our next update in 1 hour.”

Getting that fuel to the generators is an undertaking in and of itself. Parts of lower Manhattan are without power and some are inaccessible due to street closures and repairs.

So, even Peer 1’s customers are lending a hand, according to a retweet from the company. Dave Geada (@moosemarketer) Director of Product Marketing for Zunicore, Peer 1’s business cloud division, originally tweeted, “So proud to be @Peer1. NYC DC crew and customers are hauling drums of diesel up 18 flights to keep servers running. Truly inspiring heroics!”

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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