Our network is designed to survive hurricanes and other natural disasters, so we were confident even if some of our data centers that were in the hurricane’s path failed, traffic would immediately be transferred to the next closest facility. That said, our preference is always that all our data centers remain online and able to continue to serve traffic.
Yesterday morning our ops team met to plan for the potential loss of our facilities in Newark, NJ, which we refer to by the airport code EWR, and potentially Ashburn, VA, which we refer to by the airport code IAD. Our equipment is located in an Equinix facility in both locations and we confirmed that they had taken steps to ensure their systems were tested and as hurricane-ready as they could be.
Data centers are setup so that, if power from the grid is disrupted, they switch to stored backup power until generators can kick in. In EWR, power is stored in what are, effectively, a series of car batteries. Enough power is stored in the batteries that the data center can continue to run without a new source of power for several minutes. The diesel generators are setup to kick in within that time period, usually less than a minute after a power failure is detected. The generators are intended to be able to power the facilities indefinitely so long as there is sufficient fuel. Most of the data centers from which we operate worldwide are considered “critical infrastructure” and, during an emergency, they are second in line, behind only hospitals, for delivery of diesel fuel.