When we decided that Murfreesboro was a great location for a Colo data center, people asked us that question. Why there? “Aren’t data centers in larger metropolitan areas?” “Doesn’t Nashville already have some great data centers?” We understood these questions, but we thought we had a pretty good idea. Let’s select a robust data center location that was located away, but not too far, from the group of data centers located in Nashville-proper. We believed that we would provide an alternative for companies that didn’t necessarily want to be in Nashville, or simply wanted a second site for their data, their livelihood.
Our industry uses words like disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (BC) in our everyday vernacular. “Everyone should have a DR site.” “Everyone needs to think about business continuity.” “Hey, Mr. Customer, what’s your plan for when something goes wrong?”
It is often said that a second or DR data center should be at least 30 miles away from the primary location. This goes back to the days when one of the main disasters we thought about was whether or not our data was safely outside of nuclear blast zones. It turns out though, that “30 miles” is a good rule-of-thumb for most natural and manmade disasters.
A DR site is like an insurance policy, you don’t need it….until you really need it.
On Christmas Day this year, it was needed. When we talk about disaster we usually mean tornados, hurricanes, wide-spread power outages, things like that. I don’t think that any Tennessean thought our disaster would be what it was that day.
December 25th shook our community to the core and the last thing on our mind that morning was “Why Murfreesboro?” All we could think about was the potential human toll and the impact on our great city, and of course, how this would impact our business customers. The explosion was targeted at a main communication area of the city (which we didn’t really know at the time, but we all know that area, so it was a concern). Would our strategy of being outside of the city make a difference?
Our customers are not just customers, they are our local business people, they are friends and they are family. We sell them the idea that in a disaster their very livelihood would survive; and we take that seriously. To be frank, this all makes sense on paper, but until it really happens you don’t really know.
Several Nashville data centers were affected that day. Some businesses, local and national, were “down”, they had lost their communications (internet), their interconnectedness.
Our customers stayed “up”. Our connectivity stayed intact. Is that “Why Murfreesboro?” Maybe. Our power and communications were on segregated and diverse sources and paths, enough that we were not impacted. We designed it that way… on purpose.
If you had a DR site with us, you stayed operational that day.
But that doesn’t mean that our data center is any better than anyone else’s. The sites in Nashville are good data centers owned by some good companies. It also doesn’t mean that cities are not good places for data centers. They are great for data centers.
What it does mean. We learned that a disaster is completely unpredictable (I guess we really knew that already). If your primary site is with us, get a DR site in another location, you won’t hurt our feelings. Remember….unpredictable.
So, pick a second site. A DR site. Because it can surely happen.
We received this note on the 27th:
“Internet down everywhere but our servers stayed 100% unaffected. Thank you!”
That’s why Murfreesboro.
Next Blog: a DR/BC ain’t like it used to be. With the cloud and edge data centers, DR is more cost-effective than it has ever been and frankly, the cost of not having one is too high.