You may have noticed that the East Coast has been slammed by Mother Nature recently. We've seen an earthquake, a hurricane, and more than our fair share of rain and wind these past few weeks. If we could ship some of it to East Texas, we would, but for some reason the skies wanted to wash out half the roads in New England and leave Texas to burn.
One effect of all this geologic and atmospheric turmoil is that maintaining a stable data center becomes quite the challenge. Power and data connection failures make it nearly impossible to ensure full uptime, and if the weather is bad enough, operations personnel may need to stay home.
[ Also on InfoWorld.com: Read Paul Venezia's classic, "Nine traits of the veteran Unix admin." | Or see if you qualify for the title of certified IT ninja. ]
Under these circumstances, if the data center is not providing 24/7/365 facilities (such as hosting or colocation), it may be the better part of valor to power down the whole thing before the storm and the inevitable electrical and data loss. I realize many will recoil from this idea. But there's merit to it, especially if the cataclysm is expected to hit during the weekend.
Even in large corporations, weekend resource utilization is relatively low. Assuming that the public presence is hosted elsewhere, internal services are generally consumed by folks checking email -- or those with a crushing deadline, no social lives, or both. On a weekend when a large hurricane is bearing down on the area, it's safe to say overall data center utilization will be even lower.
But what about potential damage to servers and storage, you ask? It's true: Even with beefy UPS and generator backup, there can be problems with, say, climate control units that poke through to the roof and expose themselves to damage. Plus, downed communication lines mean that unless the facility is manned throughout the outage, admins can't get into the site remotely to check on things or even to organize a post-power-loss shutdown. Your decision depends on the details of your facility, but people's safety always comes first, so you may not have a choice.