Tech and Power Outages Don't Mix

March 26, 2018

By Erik Linask - Group Editorial Director

Last weekend, Purdue University’s (News - Alert) West Lafayette campus found out firsthand how power outages can impact IT services.  The school lost power Saturday evening when the line feeding the university from Duke Energy (News - Alert) lost transmission capability.  Though power was restored fairly quickly, the outage was severe enough to knock the school’s IT services offline.

Though IT teams were working diligently with Cisco (News - Alert) personnel to restore all services, many were still unavailable Sunday afternoon, including payment systems in the on-campus Starbucks and a dining court, as well as the perdue.edu domain and any associated sites and services.  The school’s Blackboard (News - Alert) Learn system came back online late Sunday afternoon.

Though power was restored relatively quickly – at least by storm-related outage standards – the challenge was that the outage also impacted switches and firewalls in the data center, which had to be checked for potential damage and to ensure they were functioning properly before other systems that have to authenticate through the firewall could be restored.  Once individual systems were reactivated, they, too, had to be verified as fully functional.

The situation is a reminder that IT systems are fragile in the face of the power it takes to operate them, and even in the best case scenario, it can take several days for complete recovery.  If any of the critical components had been damaged by the outage, the situation could have been much worse in terms of both cost and down time. 

IT managers and business leaders should consider situations like this, and what could happen to their IT infrastructure during an outage.  The easiest way to troubleshoot major problems proactively is to install a power protection system, including UPS backups, to not only guard against damage, but keep systems operational until power can be restored.  The right system will not only protect the systems, but will eliminate down time and extensive repair time and costs.  Technology is the lifeline of businesses – protecting them should be a high priority.

Edited by Mandi Nowitz

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