Pepperdine Data Center Dodges Fire Threat

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One of the wildfires raging Malibu, Calif. came within 100 feet of the data center at Pepperdine University, ComputerWorld reports. “We had serious concern that the data center itself was going to be jeopardized,” Pepperdine CIO Timothy Chester told the magazine. Chester now believes the threat to the university data center has passed.

The Malibu wildfire was out of control Sunday, with the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Web site Sunday evening describing the fire at “0 percent contained” and spread across 1,200 acres. Wildfires are a fact of life in Southern California, and are addressed in the Pepperdine IT staff’s disaster plan, which kicked into gear as the fire neared the facility. The staff had about 10 minutes notice that the fire was approaching.


The latest tape backup copies were moved to a fireproof safe, ERP applications were shut down, and the hard drives were removed and also safely stored. All that work was completed in 35 minutes, said Chester. “The whole purpose of planning is to make sure you’ve always got options,” he told ComputerWorld, “so that when you find yourself in a situation, you are familiar what those options are as opposed to having to think them through with very little response time.”

Apart from the ERP apps, the Pepperdine data center stayed online to ensure the availability of voice communications and network services. “Our staff remained in the data center operations area as long as the building fire-/smoke-detection system was not triggered by outside smoke or fire – and that never happened,” said Chester.