The Importance of Earthquake Preparation for Data Centers

With the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that recently devastated Mexico, the damages of seismic activity are at the forefront of many minds around the world. Earthquakes are one of the most unpredictable natural disasters, with intensities ranging from mild tremors to catastrophic vibrations. While scientists can identify general areas where earthquakes are likely to occur, there is no way to predict exactly when an earthquake will strike or at what magnitude.

Because of the unpredictable nature of earthquakes, it is crucial for data centers to take proactive measures to protect their facilities and employees, especially if located in an area of potential seismic activity. Two structural ways data centers can protect themselves and minimize downtime in the event of an earthquake include:

Rigid Bolting

Rigid Bolting is the basic preventive measure all data centers located in areas with seismic activity should take. In this method, equipment racks are bolted directly to the underlying slab of concrete, allowing them to move with the earth and not topple over. In the event of an earthquake, rigid bolting keeps the racks upright and protects data center employees from injuries caused by falling equipment. However, while the racks themselves do not budge, earthquake vibrations may shake IT equipment housed inside, resulting in costly damages and downtime.

Base Isolation

Base Isolation, also known as seismic base isolation, is the preferred method in protecting IT technology in data centers against destructive earthquake vibrations. Base Isolation involves two planks separated by ball bearing technology, designed to absorb the earthquake vibrations and isolate the top from the bottom plank. In a data center, the bottom plank is locked on the building’s floor, and will move with the ground in the event of an earthquake. The equipment racks holding IT equipment rest on the top plank that glide above the ground, staying in place as the earth moves below.

While these are effective measures in reducing the risk of damage from earthquakes, it is important to still have a disaster recovery plan in place should damage to IT equipment occur. Employees should know exactly what their role in the plan is to get the data center quickly running efficiently to minimize down time.

To learn more about the steps to take to ensure that you experience no downtime, even during severe weather, please contact our team today.