I think everyone will agree that when nearly 10% of the world’s population loses power, that counts as a major disaster. Unlike some disasters, the recent power outage in India, that affected more than 600 million people, was definitely predictable. Penny Jones at Data Center Dynamics wrote about India’s power issues back in February 2011.
In a follow up article this week, after the blackout, DatacenterDynamic’s general manager for India, Praveen Nair, reported that
Northern India alone can suffer an average of three to four hours of power cuts a day as the government carries out load shedding.
For larger data centers, the massive power outage of the past week was not particularly disruptive, because, as Nair says,
99% of the big players are used to this condition and have adequate backup. So when the outage took place, most data centers switched to generator sets for their power needs and most are equipped to run for days”
The same can not be said for the millions of people trying to get to and from work on transportation systems that were completely shut down. In a disaster, the human factor can never be ignored, which is why we speak so frequently about the need to have a recovery location outside the disaster zone. In this case, the disaster zone was most of India, a much larger area than would be affected by even the largest typhoon, tsunami, flood, fire, or earthquake. And the best place to have a recovery facility would have been on another continent, where there would be no local human impact.
Organizations always need to prepare for recovery from natural disasters. I suspect, however, that some of the greatest challenges for organizations, going forward, will be disasters related to infrastructure failures, particularly in rapidly growing areas such is India.