Why it's not a good idea to put your servers in a flood zone

The Huffington Post, Gawker and Buzzfeed -- three major news websites -- are down because their Internet service provider, Datagram, experienced flooding during Hurricane Sandy.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor

Would you locate your datacenter in a coastal flood zone?

I'm sure there are many fine folks working at Datagram, the New York City-based Internet service provider, and they are no doubt tirelessly scrambling this morning after Hurricane Sandy led to severe flooding and power outages in downtown Manhattan last night. (Fingers crossed that they get things up and running in short order.)

So are the many editors and writers at The Huffington Post, Gawker and Buzzfeed, three large news websites that are down this morning (and have been all night) because significant flooding at Datagram HQ took servers offline. For now, these publications are publishing content in other locations -- HuffPo at corporate parent AOL's site; Buzzfeed on Tumblr; Gawker's various properties on liveblogs hosted on subdomains for their sites.

(You can read the play by play for each site over at Wired, if you're so inclined.)

Forgive me, but I'm scratching my head here: why would you host your major, major website solely in low-lying downtown Manhattan? Have we learned nothing of disaster recovery and resiliency?

The image above shows New York's three hurricane evacuation zones. Datagram is in Zone A, described by the city as follows: "Residents in Zone A face the highest risk of flooding from a hurricane's storm surge. Zone A includes all low-lying coastal areas and other areas that could experience storm surge in ANY hurricane that makes landfall close to New York City."

I know New York is a major center for many things, including technology, and I don't mean to kick a guy when he's down, so to speak. I'm sure the details will surface soon enough -- perhaps so many services went down in New York that there was no alternate path to be had.

But I suspect this wasn't the best strategic decision. No?

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