05-21-13 | Blog Post
The first and most important decision your organization can make regarding disaster recovery is deciding on the geographical location. There are many things to consider including the probability and severity of natural disasters, other weather conditions like temperature, power structure of the area, and availability of a knowledgeable workforce. The state of Michigan offers many positives in all of these areas. Let’s take a look at the top 5 reasons why Michigan is a good disaster recovery location.
1. Low Probability of Natural Disasters – It is hard to predict when and where a natural disaster will hit. However, there are geographical locations that are more prone to natural disasters than others. For example, the state of Florida and Texas has a high probability of hurricanes while California has a high probability of earthquakes.
There is an extremely low risk of natural disasters in the state of Michigan and it is one of the safest states in terms of natural disaster. The NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) found that the Great Lakes region has a low probability of hurricanes or tropical storms.
According to their research, the region experiences hurricane or tropical storm remnants, on average, twice a decade. And in the majority of instances, the storms diminish to rain storms by the time they reach the region. In the case of earthquakes, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) predicts that Michigan has less than 1% chance of having an earthquake in the next 50 years.
2. Low Severity of Natural Disasters – Another consideration regarding natural disasters is the severity or impact that a natural disaster can have on a region. For example, a more densely populated area, such as the East Coast, will experience greater devastation than less populated areas. Hurricane Sandy was a great example of how populated East Coast cities suffered with power outages, flooding and fuel shortages.
According to FEMA’s website, the state of Michigan has only declared disasters a total of 33 times. Only seven other states declared disaster fewer times, including South Carolina, Utah, Wyoming, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, and Rhode Island. Yet, four of these states rank in the top 10 of population density(1). Therefore, Michigan offers fewer disasters and lower population density than most states.
“The natural disaster we do have is a tornado,” says Yan Ness. The good news, bad news about a tornado is that the swath of damage of a tornado is measured by hundreds of yards, not miles like a hurricane. So, in Michigan 50 miles is adequate for disaster recovery separation. You can have equipment in one location and backup equipment 50 miles away. This allows employees to quickly travel to the backup site in less than an hour if disaster strikes.
3. Two Separate Power Grids – A down utility grid could cause significant power outages following a natural disaster. So, it is very important to consider a location that can offer you a strong power grid as well as the opportunity to use multiple power grids for increased availability and reliability.
According to Ness, since Michigan used to have a lot of auto plants that needed power, Michigan has a large capacity of power along with a very robust, sizable power grid. One unique thing about Michigan is that the state has two separate power grids. Michigan has two separate power companies – one serves the northern half of lower Michigan and the other serves the southeastern and southern half of Michigan.
Online Tech has data centers located in both power grids. So even though you are in one state you can drive between the data centers that are completely powered by different grids, different companies; yet they’re still connected by very cost effective fiber.
4. Cool Temperatures – Michigan’s year round cool climate is ideal for disaster recovery locations. With cool temperatures, Michigan data centers do not need to rely as heavily on powered cooling as data centers in the south. Michigan’s average heating day is 62 degrees, which allows data centers to use free cooling about 90% of the time. This helps Michigan data centers to lower utility costs but cool temperatures can also reduce the risk of servers overheating and potential hardware failure affecting data availability. Read more about the benefits of Michigan cool climate in Michigan – The Next Cool Thing for Data Centers.
5. Well-Educated Workforce – A disaster recovery location should also have access to a knowledgeable, educated workforce. After all, people are the ones who support a disaster recovery site. Michigan boasts the 4th largest high-tech workforce in the U.S. and ranks as one of the top technology centers in the nation. Michigan residents also have access to 27 colleges and universities that offer degrees in science, engineering and technology.