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Tornadoes and data centers are OK in Oklahoma

Patrick Thibodeau | June 3, 2013
Devon Energy's data center in Oklahoma City built of structural precast and 'rated for 310 mph winds'

But there is a trend among customers to ask service providers about their physical infrastructure and extreme weather risks, said Tad Davies, senior vice president at the Bick Group, which designs data centers. "Availability is such a high stakes thing," he said, and that may be encouraging data centers to build to ever higher standards.

Many data centers are hardened, but most aren't. At least one company in Oklahoma may have built a data center of exceptional strength. Holder Construction list one of its projects as a data center for Devon Energy in Oklahoma City, which was built of structural precast and "rated for 310 MPH winds." A Devon spokesman declined to comment on it.

Google declined as well to talk about the capability of its data centers to withstand tornados. The information it has put out on its Mayes County facility stresses its ability to move data and shift operations.

Paul Matthews, chief technology officer, Xerox Litigation Services, said that in his experience, "the most commonly overlooked aspect of a disaster recovery/resiliency strategy relates not to the physical infrastructure inside the facility, but to external vendors."

Power outages and network breaks from downed trees, as well as flooding from major rainfall are most likely to cause service outages, said Matthews. "It's all well and good to have a hardened facility, but two more redundant diesel generators won't help when your only network provider goes offline," he said.


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