Data centers under water: What, me worry?

Climate change causes some to ponder relocation and other, less drastic hardening measures.

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By winter 2006, the company decided to create two mirror-image data centers in Jackson, Miss., and Little Rock, Ark. In Little Rock, the company retrofitted an old library with sturdy brick walls, moving hardware and critical applications from New Orleans, piece-by-piece, to the backup facility by 2008.

Finally, by 2010, Entergy had completed its brand-new $30 million Jackson, Miss., data center. The company load-balances several systems including email between the two centers, Israel says. "Moving applications from New Orleans involved quite a choreography plan. Subsequent to Katrina we've had [major] storm events, including ice storms in Little Rock. But I no longer have to hold my breath," she says.

The company holds drills for hurricanes and storms every year "to get better and better at responding," Israel says. "One of the things we quickly recognized was how effective a dispersed workforce can be. Our employees can do a lot more things from remote locations and that has served us very, very well."

Not everyone seems to have absorbed the "take heed" message. IT shops in both Europe and America's Northeast seem to cling to the idea that superstorms are non-repeatable freaks of nature. In some cases, even among those affected by major storms, vigilance plays a chess game with artful forgetfulness as managers choose other IT priorities.

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