As residents of San Francisco Bay Area brace themselves for torrential rain and hurricane-strength winds forecasted to descend on the region early Thursday morning, data center operators around the region have taken extra precautionary measures to ensure safety of their staff and data center uptime. PG&E and Silicon Valley Power, electrical utilities that serve the region, have both said the storm may cause power outages.
Chris Yetman, senior vice president of operations at Vantage Data Centers, which has a massive campus in Santa Clara, has put together a list of steps every data center operator should take to maintain data center uptime and staff safety when they know a particularly bad storm is coming.
“This should be a living list that you walk through even with no storm on the horizon, and that you can add to from what you’ve learned during prior events for future planning,” he said.
Here it is, Chris Yetman’s list of things to do if you are data center operator and you know a bad storm is coming:
1. Safety is the number-one concern. Make sure people know how to report anything that looks unsafe in and around the campus.
2. Walk the entire campus to ensure there are no loose items that can blow around. This is important for safety as well as the damage avoidance of having something slam into a wall.
3. Have a list of available standby staff in the event of an emergency. Know who lives close by and could come in even under tough circumstances. If needed, consider reserving a few nearby hotel rooms if you are concerned about poor driving conditions and want to minimize the risk of employees having to drive in a severe storm.
4. If you have on-shift people that may be stuck because travel is unsafe, make sure you have a stash of food and water to allow them to be comfortable while they wait out the storm. (I have in some environments literally had bedding and cots available in storage.)
5. Know the locations of all your storm and roof drains. Keep them clean and clear of debris. Ahead of storm, pre-walk the site and inspect every one of them and be sure they are clear and that you know what to do in an event one gets clogged.
6. Inspect all roof tops to ensure all loose items have been removed or secured properly. Review the panels on any rooftop equipment to be sure they are all properly secured.
7. If you have known building leaks that you have not yet repaired, then prepare your response ahead. Have buckets, towels, squeegees, and whatever is likely to be needed near the leak location.
8. Place any moveable outside gear indoors. This can be anything from unsecured benches and tables to the forklift you might normally park outside in the campus.
9. Check all generators to ensure there are no pending issues. Make sure they are clear of any nearby debris and fuel is at an acceptable level for extended run time if needed.
10. If for any reason it’s been more than 30 days since your last generator run/test, then you should run them to be sure they are ready.