Hurricane Harvey Will Test Power Protection Systems

August 25, 2017

By Erik Linask - Group Editorial Director

As Hurricane Harvey continues its march towards Texas, with anticipated landfall early Saturday as at least a Category 3 hurricane, residents and businesses are preparing to deal with potentially life-threatening situations.  The storm, which has been intensifying steadily as it cross the Gulf of Mexico and approaches landfall near Corpus Christi, is expected to bring rainfall amounts as high as three feet, with winds gusting at more than 130 mph.  While evacuation procedures have been enacted in some areas – Senator Ted Cruz urged residents in the storm’s path to seek refuge in safer areas on his Facebook (News - Alert) page – others are simply doing their best to prepare for several days of heavy winds and rain, as the storm is expected to stall somewhere over eastern Texas.

For businesses, this is one of those situations where you can be fairly certain of a power outage – an extended one, in many cases.  So it means making sure existing business continuity plans are ready to be implemented, including ensuring employees are able to work from remote locations or alternate offices, if needed.  For businesses that leverage cloud-based services, the transition from fixed to mobile employees is as simple as plugging in at a remote location and connecting to hosted VoIP or other cloud-based services.  It also means shutting down any non-essential equipment at the office in anticipation of power surges when the outage hits, as well as when power is eventually restored. 

For those essential network resources – servers, switches, gateways, etc. – hopefully, IT managers and executives have had the foresight to install power protection and UPS systems that will defend against surge damage.  Even small surges can cause damage to equipment, as sensitive circuitry can be weakened, even if it continues to function normally for the time being.  And of course, there’s the threat of immediate failure, which would restrict access to resources until repairs can be made.  Considering the potential for an extended outage and prioritization of emergency repairs, that could result in significant lost operational time, even once power is restored.

Whether in anticipated outage scenarios such as this, or sudden, unexpected instances, power protection systems should be a priority budget line item for any executive and IT manager.  The benefits outweigh the costs, considering the capital expense, IT man-hours, and lost revenue opportunities due to down time resulting from damaged equipment.  Surges and outages have so many causes – most of them unforeseen, and many unnoticed, especially during overnight hours – that it makes sense for every business to have some level of protection for their technology. 

There are many types of backup and power protection systems available to meet the needs of various budgets and business needs.  The key, however, is to ensure that the business does not lost more time than the actual outage – and with a full backup system, even many outages can even be supported with a power supply.

We certainly hope Hurricane Harvey’s impact is far less than current projections and that damage and loss is limited.  But every storm and outage situation does serve as a reminder to businesses to be prepared.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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