Katrina Knocks Out 100-plus Networks, But Few Relocate

Few of the data networks knocked offline by Hurricane Katrina have relocated their operations to backup sites outside the disaster zone, according to a new report examining the disaster's impact on infrastructure. More than 100 local networks on the U.S. Gulf Coast remain offline two weeks after Katrina, but major Internet networks saw only brief disruptions from the storm, according to the report from Renesys, which monitors Internet routing traffic.

"It is suprising to note how few of the networks in the region saw any service restored through disaster recovery services," the analysis noted. "Many networks in the affected region, especially those in Louisiana, have been unreachable for a prolonged period of time. These networks may not see service restored for some time to come, unless they can be brought back online at disaster recovery sites outside of the region."

The local outages had no major impact on the Internet because New Orleans isn't a major hub for Internet connectivity. A fiber route from Atlanta to Houston travels north of the city, and experienced only minor problems during Katrina, while a Qwest route through New Orleans serving Internet2 experienced more significant outages.

Some New Orleans providers stayed online using generators, including domain registrar DirectNIC, whose employee weblog documenting conditions in New Orleans attracted widespread media coverage, including live interviews with DirectNIC staff on NBC news channels. Datasync, a hosting provider based in Biloxi, Mississippi, was offline for more than 24 hours on Sept. 1-2, but came back online and has remained available.

Providers relying on generator power seem to have fared well in refueling, despite the flodding. "Unlike the northeastern blackout of 2003, or Manhattan outages of September 11, 2001, there did not appear to be significant delayed instability as the result of generator failure or fuel exhaustion," the report noted. "For the most part outages occurred early and remained."