Amidst more flood misery Steve Davis mulls over the growing implications on data centre location.
As we settle into 2016 Britain is on flood alert - again. The latest terrible flooding suffered by residents and business owners in the North of England were made even worse with it happening in the run up to Christmas and through the New Year period.
Flooding of course is not limited to the North. It is a nationwide phenomenon bearing in mind the dreadful events down in Somerset a couple of years ago, the same winter which also saw the Thames burst its banks just a few miles short of central London. If it hadn’t been for the Thames Barrier things could have been truly devastating.
With such events becoming more frequent and more severe, and the Environment Agency saying climate change will make existing defended areas more vulnerable over this century, it is clear that businesses using on-premise or third party data storage facilities located on or nearby floodplains are at increased risk. The resulting impact on business continuity, either directly from water ingress or from the knock-on effects such as power outages, cannot be underestimated.
When it comes to data centre operations the name of the game is to protect and ensure data is safe and secure. This must surely include from flood water but such logical thinking appears at odds judging by the many existing facilities and new builds still being located near rivers and on floodplains, London Docklands a prime example. While plenty of time and resource is spent on cyber and physical defences, risk from acts of God seem to take a back seat.
Some continue to argue there is no other choice as, after all, we are living on an island with numerous rivers. But there are many other areas in the UK to choose from and this argument certainly doesn’t wash in the face of the near millisecond latency over several hundred miles now widely available nationwide - and at very low cost with fibre connectivity costing under a fiver per mile.
Nine times out of ten the low latency available is more than adequate for all but the most time critical financial trading applications. Furthermore, powerful remote diagnostics has also ruled out the case for server hugging. You really don’t need to be onsite anymore to check the lights are on.
All things considered, 2016 could well be the year many more businesses make their data strategy more watertight - in all senses of the word. Well-connected carrier neutral data centre locations, well away from rivers, floodplains and coast lines should become increasingly popular.