Recent extreme weather in the UK and US has underlined the myriad issues that firms must be aware of when considering where to store their data, but many are ignoring these threats.
Data storage issues such as access, security policies and legal control are well documented for storage, especially as cloud computing use grows, but there are many other less obvious factors that businesses must consider.
Storms and flooding across the UK, coupled with extreme cold in the US – now both thankfully receding – have been a timely reminder of the need to consider all eventualities. In late 2012 Hurricane Sandy also highlighted the threat weather can pose to data.
Clearly any data centre site, however managed, could be at risk from such incidents and so firms must consider a primary or secondary backup location when choosing a site for their data.
Alex Rabbetts, the chief executive of data centre firm MigSolv, runs a site in Norfolk, and he believes many firms leave themselves open to numerous issues by not thinking more carefully about storage locations.
“When you’re going to choose a data centre location then the single most important thing to consider is location. Any data centre provider will have heat and cooling and all that, but you can’t control the external factors like flooding,” he told V3.
“Data is your crown jewels, so why on earth are you putting it somewhere where it’s at risk from flooding or other extremes? You need to give consideration to all these issues.”
Rabbetts cites concerns with London as a major data centre hub. “Earlier this month the Thames Barrier was shut almost every day for a week because of flooding risks, so that proves you have to give any location serious consideration,” he said.
Forrester analyst Rachel Dines agreed with Rabbetts, arguing that many organisations fail to think about physical site locations beyond their convenience.
“For a long time the reaction was just to use a data centre in a convenient location without too much risk-profiling, but as we have seen over the year, this is a really important issue, but one people don’t take seriously,” she told V3.
The rise of cloud computing has meant many firms outsource their data storage and assume it is taken care of, Dines noted, but this is far from true.
“The nice thing about cloud is you shouldn’t have to worry about things, but that’s not true as clouds live in data centres and data centres are subject to risks, so it becomes a complicating factor,” she explained.
With weather threats always likely, firms would do well to consider how well the locations where their data is stored are protected from extremes.
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