MLB.COM learns from their business continuity lesson

Maybe there is more to disaster recovery / business continuity planning than is obvious at first glance

With high profile datacenters installed in Manhattan skyscrapers IT planners went to a lot of effort to make sure that they had appropriate backup and disaster recovery plans in place.  Alternate communications connections, backup generators, and operational plans to keep the datacenters functional in the case of a power failure were basic parts of the planning that went into the design of these datacenters located on the island.  But the impact of Hurricane Sandy affected these datacenters in an unexpected way; a long term power outage.

Beyond managing the operational power requirements of running on diesel generators for an extended period of time there is one major factor that needs to be considered; providing the generators with fuel.  And as the news stories of the day showed, fuel considerations had rarely been applied when datacenter fuel tanks were placed on the upper levels of high-rise office buildings.  To keep technology operating, many datacenters had to resort to a pre-technological solution; the bucket brigade. It became necessary to hand carry enough fuel for operations up multiple levels of stairs on a regular basis throughout the duration of the emergency.

Major League baseball, in the form of, was one of these organizations.  For the duration of the outage it was necessary to hand carry thousands of gallons of fuel up six flights of stairs to feed the 600 Kw roof-mounted backup generator. But kept the facility up and running throughout the 2012 disaster, keeping baseball streaming alive for their millions of users.

So it’s not surprising that recently announced that they were expanding their operations outside of NYC, adding a colo location within their current datacenter provider Level 3’s network.  The new space, at Level 3’s recently commissioned 10,000 sq ft facility in Omaha, Nebraska, will eventually grow to occupy 80% of the space and will allow to provide better service as it grows its own capabilities. And extra fuel can easily be delivered by tanker truck.

To New Yorker’s, often celebrated as thinking of the planet as NYC and then everywhere else, the move to Nebraska (one of those rectangular states, somewhere between NYC and the Pacific Ocean) might seem like a major change, both geographically and culturally. But to IT professionals, an additional datacenter that is both geographically separate and centrally located (even if it has no major league baseball team) looks like an excellent business and technical decision for