Maintaining business continuity during severe weather events is difficult, but data center managers should plan ahead of what is often Mother Nature’s worst, occurring in spring and summer. This preparation helps organizations avoid the costly expense of a power outage, which according to a Ponemon Institute study is estimated to be $505,502 per incident.

Last year alone, huge, debilitating thunderstorms and floods plagued the southeastern United States and tornadoes swept across parts of the Midwest knocking out power. Perhaps the most memorable is Hurricane Sandy’s destruction of the East Coast. 

While you can’t stop natural disasters, proper preparation helps. Having worked with customers during emergencies for more than 25 years, Emerson’s Liebert Services business understands just how to fortify business-critical equipment ahead of a severe weather event, as well as how to get customers back online safely, quickly, and reliably. Here are some best practices based on our experience:

Utilize remote services for battery, UPS and cooling equipment monitoring. The implementation of comprehensive infrastructure monitoring and management tools can also minimize the activity costs intrinsic to detecting and recovering from power system failures. Integrating a comprehensive monitoring solution with remote services means critical issues are identified in seconds and diagnosed in minutes. Service may even be dispatched before a customer is aware of a problem thus offering the best Mean Time To Repair (MTTR), which is especially important following wide-spread outages due to severe weather.

Ensure adequate power system redundancy. Because there is always a possibility of equipment failure during severe weather or other natural disasters, redundancy ensures a backup is always in place. While direct costs are still incurred to repair or replace a failed module, the equipment failure will not have as catastrophic an impact on data center availability as a total unplanned outage. In fact, many Emerson Network Power customers that have redundancy are able to shed load when the impact of severe weather is imminent. This controlled shut down ultimately saves their batteries and helps to avoid the cost of total replacement.

Get a thorough damage assessment following a natural disaster. Avoiding all replacement costs is not always possible, but the only way to know for sure is to engage an experienced service provider who can assess your entire data center infrastructure through physical inspection and testing. These actions determine the serviceability of each piece of equipment. Recommendations can then be made regarding repair or replacement.

Work with a specialist when repair is needed. Data center equipment exposed to water can be extremely dangerous if re-energized without proper repair or reconditioning. The ability to recondition equipment may vary based on a number of factors that a technician should understand such as the nature of the electrical function, the degree of flooding, the age of the equipment and the length of time the equipment was exposed to water or other contaminates. Additionally, you’ll want to work with a specialist that is able to provide repair, recondition and retrofit services for virtually any manufacturer’s equipment. 

Ensure timely access to replacement equipment. When your equipment is determined not to be serviceable, locating new, surplus and remanufactured components can be difficult and time consuming, especially during a wide-spread recovery effort. When selecting an emergency response service provider, you’ll want to consider its relationships with suppliers, as well as its own spare parts inventory. For example, Emerson Network Power has more than $10 million in parts inventory in seven strategically located warehouses throughout the United States. Nearly 100 percent of our emergency parts orders are delivered in less than 24 hours.

Adhere to safety-related guidelines during equipment restarts. Whether you need complete installation and startup or simply a restart of existing equipment following a small-scale technical problem, you should always work with highly trained technicians equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE) for arc flash and electrical safety. Startups are challenging enough under the best of circumstances, so when they follow natural disasters, there may be additional safety issues to consider. You want an emergency service provider that is well versed according to industry safety standards, as well as one that closely monitors manufacturers’ recommendations.    

Partner with a customer-focused service provider with robust resources. Not all critical power system technicians have the backing of an original equipment manufacturer, a technical support team, and a call center that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additionally, many service providers aren’t able to dedicate personnel for on-site emergency standby in the midst of a natural disaster. All these resources, offered by Emerson Network Power, are beneficial for helping customers stay online or get back online quickly following an outage.

For more information on how to prepare for power outages or to learn more about other Liebert technologies and services from Emerson Network Power, visit