With one of history's most powerful hurricanes bearing down on the Houston/Galveston area, EV1Servers is taking steps to protect the more than 1 million web sites hosted in its Houston data centers. CEO Robert Marsh says the company has more than 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel on site, procured an extra generator in case grid power is unavailable for an extended period, and established a secondary support facility in Wichita, Kansas. "We anticipate that the coming storm will have no impact on our operations," Marsh said in a message to customers. "However, we are prepared to deal with any eventuality."
Hurricane Rita is currently a category 5 storm with sustained winds of 175 miles an hour, making it an even more intense storm than Hurricane Katrina, which laid waste to New Orleans and the surrounding Gulf Coast on Aug 29. Forecasters predict Rita will weaken slightly and make landfall early Saturday as a category 4 storm. "Our buildings are designed to withstand Cat 4 conditions," Marsh said Wednesday night on the EV1 forums. "It is anticipated that we will see high Cat 3 conditions, based upon the current track and our location. This could easily escalate to cat 4 conditions."
EV1Servers is the world's eighth-largest web host, housing 1.1 million hostnames and 642K active sites. Any service outages for the company could ripple far beyond Houston, as many web hosting resellers lease servers housed in its Houston facilities. EV1Servers has more than 150 different customers with at least 1,000 web sites, including hosting providers based in the UK, Brazil, Japan, Italy and the Netherlands as well as the United States. EV1 says its networks "oversee 1.5% of all U.S. Internet traffic."
Marsh said he will remain onsite this weekend with a skeleton staff of 25 of the company's 400 employees. "Disaster planning has been underway for some time," said Marsh, noting that the company has been in touch with its connectivity providers and made arrangements for emergency communications "outside of the pstn (public switched telephone network )."
EV1Servers has two diesel generators at each of its data centers to power the facilities if municipal power goes out, and has an additional generator available as well. "While this unit would not be needed for a brief outage, if we were to experience a loss of power lasting several days, we would need to perform normal maintenance on our generators, and this would give us a generator to run while that maintenance is taking place," Marsh explained. "We have guaranteed contracts for fuel delivery and two fuel depots are located within 2 miles of our facility." On Thursday Marsh said that EV1 had established an offsite support center in Wichita, Kansas.
An analysis earlier this year suggested that a category 4 or 5 hurricane making a direct hit on the Houston/Galveston area could cause more than $40 billion in damage. In Houston itself, much of the damage would be from wind, with only small portions of the city likely to be flooded by a massive storm surge.
Marsh said EV1Servers has nearly $5 million in cash immediately available should there be the need for repairs, or any other contingency that required significant expense. "In short, we are prepared from a facilities and a financial perspective to weather the storm and its aftermath," Marsh said. "I have complete confidence in our team. They have proven themselves in many previous times of crisis. During these times, our facilities have remained completely functional." That included a June 2003 incident in which the servers remained online after an electrical transformer exploded and caught fire.