Hurricane Sandy tests the reliability of the cloud

The reliability of the cloud is being tested by hurricane Sandy, as Robert Miggins of Peer 1 Hosting told CDN over the phone on Tuesday afternoon.

“This is when our value really gets tested,” said Miggins, senior vice-president of business development at the Vancouver-based firm that provides managed hosting, cloud hosting and network services.

On Tuesday Miggins joined a scheduled conference call interview for another CDN story 10 minutes late but apologized profusely by explaining that in the previous three hours he and his firm had been frantically fielding a landslide of media requests about the storm and its impact on data centres in New York City.

Miggins told us that although the bottom two floors of a Peer 1 data centre were flooded, the firm’s crews were working around the clock (literally) to keep things running.

“We’ve got a team on the ground in New York City that’s just fantastic. It’s such a treat to work with folks like this. This is when our value really gets tested. They’re been preparing for this as early as last week,” Miggins told us from his office in Texas. “We’re getting through it and it’s very very delicate and touch and go. Hopefully we’ll be having some breathing room soon.”

Though the Peer 1 team had been doing everything it could to prepare for Sandy (from stockpiling food to the most minute IT backup details, Miggins said), the company’s service was affected as detailed in an Information Week story based on a dramatic series of tweets and Web site updates posted by Peer 1.

Peer 1 was forced to perform a controlled shutdown of its Big Apple data centre on Tuesday morning but at least one other data centre in New York City was also affected. That data centre, run by Datagram, went down and took the Huffington Post and Gawker Web sites with it.

For a peek into the valiant efforts of Peer 1 technicians to literally keep the NYC data centre afloat, read the full Information Week story here.

Related Information: PEER 1’S STORM UPDATES FORUM

Also affected by Hurricane Sandy was a Canadian company with a data centre in the U.S., the Emphasys Group, a Calgary-based firm that does software consulting. Lee Ackerman, its CTO and vice-president of operations, said in a Twitter message that the company’s data centre had been flooded and that its Web site would be taken down. The company’s telephone system was apparently out of commission as well, with calls to the Emphasys Group’s toll-free number returning an error message.

In an e-mail message, Ackerman wrote that there were many people “dealing with more serious issues than some Web servers.” The hurricane was “a bump in the road for us,” he added, but “our thoughts are with those dealing with real problems.”

There are estimates that Hurricane Sandy could cause up to $20 billion in damage.

With files from Brian Bloom

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