Shock and Ow: The Big Problem With Power Interruption
What happens when the power goes out in your organization? Beyond dark offices, dead computers and annoyed staff, you’ve got bigger problems: Servers are no longer spinning and cloud connections are no longer operating. Put simply, you’re dead in the water.
It’s no surprise, then, that power interruption is now No. 10 on the list of top business interruption-related losses from 2010 to 2014. As noted by Forbes, information from a new Allianz report suggests the growing interconnectivity of power generation and supply services will lead to widespread effects in the event of an outage. Here is a look at the big problem of having no power.
The Road to Recovery
What goes down doesn’t always come back up, which is the biggest issue with power outages. Once your network has been compromised, it’s difficult to know when — or even if — services will return to normal.
For instance, consider a traditional server scenario in which all data is stored and leveraged in-house. If the local power grid fails, your business quickly grinds to a halt. Even if you’re running backup generators, there is a good chance that files that were open when the outage hit will not be recoverable. There is also the problem of long-term sustainability. What if power problems persist for more than a few days? Is your company prepared to power local servers forever?
Cloud and business continuity offerings come with some advantages here since local power loss won’t affect your provider. Even if the vendor is local, any reputable service should have multiple failover sites. The problem is that you still need power to reach the cloud at all. If there’s no electricity available, your Internet connection won’t work, and failover data won’t be available. Sure, you won’t lose any files if you’re running an active backup site, but you still need a way to get reconnected.
There is also concern that cloud providers aren’t immune to natural disasters or storms. If public cloud servers go down, your company is just one of many clamoring to get back up and running.
Critical Causes of a Power Interruption
Your company also needs knowledge of common causes of downtime — what’s putting your power at risk? Natural disasters continue to play a role, even for geographically diverse providers. Earthquakes and superstorms remain a real problem, and as noted by ExtremeTech, large solar flares could potentially knock out most of the world’s power grid. In 2012, a massive flare narrowly missed Earth. Had it struck, electronic devices worldwide would have been destroyed due to superstrong electromagnetic discharge.
Malicious attacks can also cripple power networks. An InfoSec Institute paper from 2015 examined outages that struck the New York Stock Exchange, United Airlines and The Wall Street Journal simultaneously. Although the outages were ultimately unrelated, the events spurred an investigation of cyberattack readiness. The results indicated that most businesses are not prepared but are extremely worried.
For instance, consider the recent case of a ransomware attack that took down Israel’s Electric Authority. Computerworld noted that while the problem was serious, media coverage blew up the story into a complete takedown of the country’s power grid. The lesson? Infrastructure is vulnerable, but fear is palpable.
Regardless of the source — whether natural or malicious, local or on the provider’s end — the impact of power interruption is the same: network failure and possible data loss. Staying prepared means having a backup plan or, at the very least, leveraging off-site failover servers. Better yet, opt for in-house generators to bridge the short-term gap and combine them with robust services to shore up infrastructure if the problem persists for more than a week.