We have seen a dramatic increase in colocation activity in the Philadelphia area following Hurricane Sandy. Sandy effectively knocked out several North Jersey and Lower Manhattan facilities for over a week. The Whitehall St. facility in Lower Manhattan was without power for over a week. Then there were datacenters that had power but lost IP connectivity when their circuits from Manhattan went down.
On top of all of this, a local Philadelphia facility (Voicenet) decided to shut down its colocation operations. We have actually moved in over 5 clients just from Voicenet alone, and another 6 clients from various providers on the Metro NYC area.
What did we learn from Hurricane Sandy?
1. Don’t put your datacenter in a building with a below grade electrical room.
2. Don’t put your datacenter in an area without diverse IP POPs.
The first rule is obvious, or so you would think, but amazingly people in NYC build telecom operations in buildings that have below grade electrical rooms. In the case of Whitehall, not only was the electrical room below grade, but so were the fuel pumps for the generators. The second rule is broken all the time. I can’t tell you how many facilities claim to be multi-homed with multiple carriers, but when you look closely, you find out that all those carriers come in via a single fiber ring that runs to a single POP.
There was one datacenter in Boston that had fiber running to Whitehall St. in Lower Manhattan, so when Whitehall went dark, the facility in Boston lost all IP connectivity. Boston has local IP POPs, why get all your connectivity out of Whitehall in NYC? Answer is cost. It’s cheaper to put everything on one big pipe and send it to a heavily trafficked POP like Whitehall, but like the old saying…. you get what you pay for.