Data centers powered businesses through storm
Hundreds of Connecticut businesses left without power following Hurricane Sandy are facing significant economic losses, both from physical damage and from lost productivity, local experts say.
But with a tropical storm, a freak October snowstorm, and Sandy impacting the region over a 14-month span, business owners are increasingly taking measures to ensure their work is not disrupted by the weather, said Zack Margolis, vice president of Cervalis L.L.C.
Cervalis, a Shelton-based information technology infrastructure provider, specializes in ensuring businesses’ servers and operating systems can continue working during severe circumstances, such as power outages, floods or earthquakes.
As Sandy swept through, Cervalis never lost power or connectivity, allowing hundreds of employees of local companies to continue working.
Cervalis provides infrastructure for rapid recovery, hosting, cloud computing, security measures, storage and telecommunications.
“Clients are expecting a business to be up and running no matter what,” Margolis said. “People that weren’t prepared are having a rough time, right now, to continue business.”
Cervalis hosts business’s day-to-day IT operations, which allows a business that has lost power at its offices to continue working remotely, stay online, make calls and accept transactions like receiving orders and payments.
At each of the data center provider’s locations, including Stamford and Shelton, there are also business continuity centers where clients’ employees can work if needed.
In the days following the storm, Margolis said more than 500 people were working at the company’s centers at a cost of $200 a month per seat. The continuity centers are typically only for customers who reserved seats as a part of their monthly bill. Most companies only reserve seats for key employees.
Cervalis’s clients range from the small mom and pop store to corporations in the Fortune 500. The industries it serves include retail, insurance and education, among others.
After the storm, Cervalis added emergency staff to its around-the-clock recovery centers as well as extra employees to respond to the influx of calls from customers looking for technical support and a place to work temporarily.
“We’re very happy all our data centers ran and were up without any hiccups,” Margolis said. “Throughout the storm and after, all our clients’ systems ran perfectly.”
The 12-year-old company has been rapidly expanding and is currently building a 168,000-square-foot data center in Norwalk, which is the largest build-to-suit agreement in Fairfield County in more than 10 years.
Similar to its other facilities, the Norwalk data center will stay powered through backup generators and redundant wiring. It will include raised floors, 16 megawatts of utility power and 3,500 tons of cooling capacity.
In nearby Westchester County, N.Y., data center and managed services provider Xand also stayed open and operational throughout the storm.
Similar to Cervalis, the Hawthorne, N.Y.-based company offers data storage and rents seats on a monthly basis in its business continuity center in case of an emergency. During the storm, about 150 more people than usual were working out of the company centers in Hawthorne and Waterbury, said Ralph Thomas, vice president of Xand.
With six data centers between Boston and Pennsylvania, the company has been quickly expanding its footprint along the east coast. In a July interview with the Westchester County Business Journal, the company also expressed an interest in expanding into Fairfield County or someplace nearby.
“I think this was a wakeup call to a lot of businesses,” Thomas said. “They need to have a business continuity plan formulated and action plan in place.”