Risks of Having a Primary Data Center in Florida in the Context of Hurricanes

Direct Impact on Data Center

1. Power Outages: Hurricanes can cause extended power loss. Backup generators might not suffice if fuel supply lines are disrupted.
2. Flooding: Storm surges and inland flooding can damage data center equipment, even in areas that are not directly on the coast.
3. Wind Damage: The physical structure of the data center building could be compromised, affecting its integrity.
4. Inability to Access Facility: Roads may be impassable, leaving the data center unreachable for necessary repairs and maintenance.

Infrastructure and Connectivity

1. Telecom/Network Disruption: Critical telecom infrastructure like fiber lines and Points of Presence (PoPs) could be damaged or flooded, severing network connections.
2. Transportation Disruption: Roads and public transport may be unusable, affecting staff availability and emergency maintenance.
3. Supply Chain Interruptions: Getting fuel for backup generators or replacement parts can become difficult due to blocked or hazardous roads.

Regional Impact

1. Geographic Coverage: Hurricanes can be large-scale events affecting vast areas, making regional failover options ineffective.
2. Multiple Hurricane Risk: Florida often faces multiple storms in a season. This raises the stakes, as recovery from one event could be disrupted by another.
3. Demand Surge After Disaster: Right when your data center is most vulnerable, you might experience a spike in demand, adding to the load and resource requirements.

External Dependencies

1. Power Grids: Even if your data center is fortified, the external power grid might fail, affecting your operation.
2. Internet Backbones: If these get affected, it doesn’t matter how well your data center is functioning; data won’t be able to move effectively.

Operational Constraints

1. Limited Failover Options: Due to the large geographic impact of hurricanes, finding an unaffected site for failover within the same region becomes challenging.

Resource Scarcity

1. Fuel and Supply Competition: After a hurricane, there might be a shortage of crucial supplies like fuel for generators, as emergency services will also be vying for these resources.

Mitigation Strategy for Hurricanes

1. Geographically Dispersed Failover Sites: Consider failover sites that are far enough to not be affected by the same hurricane.
2. Diverse and Redundant Telecom Links: Opt for multiple telecom providers to increase the chances of maintaining network connectivity.
3. Stockpiling Emergency Supplies: Keep a stock of essential supplies like fuel and replacement parts that can be rapidly deployed.
4. Early Activation of Business Continuity Plan (BCP): Initiate failover procedures early, preferably as soon as a Hurricane Warning is issued.

Given the myriad complexities and inherent risks associated with operating a primary data center in Florida, I strongly advise against locating your primary data center in this region. Even with meticulous planning and significant investments in redundancy and failover strategies, the unpredictable and uncontrollable external factors such as regional power grids, telecommunication networks, and natural resource availability can compromise your operations. Given that hurricanes and other natural disasters can severely impact Florida and surrounding areas, I recommend placing your data centers in states or regions with lower susceptibility to natural disasters. This approach will provide a more secure and stable environment for maintaining critical operations, reducing the need for complex, costly, and potentially unreliable disaster recovery efforts.