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Devastation in Florida & across the Caribbean

19 September 2017, Madrid.  According to the National Weather Service, Irma is the most powerful hurricane to ever form in the Atlantic Ocean. Many Caribbean islands and a total of 9 states, including Puerto Rico were impacted by this catastrophic weather event.

Parts of South Florida remain closed off to its residents, thousands of people are still displaced in shelters.  In the Florida Keys alone, more than 10,000 people have been left homeless and schools are being relocated to Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

In Miami Dade-county where Telefonica USA’s office and Data Center is located, a curfew was implemented from Saturday September 9th to Tuesday September 12th in efforts to keep residents safe. Energy sources have been scarce and supermarket shelves remained empty in the days following the storm. Recovery efforts are progressing but many business and office buildings remain closed while they wait for power to be restored, manage the flood damages and clean debris from their properties.  

 

Protecting businesses whatever the weather

Being prepared for these most challenging scenarios is critical. Our offices in Miami and Puerto Rico have been put to the test several times and we have found that best in class assets and experience have become our best allies.

Our Assets

We run our data centre operations from KeyCenterTM building. It was constructed to operate 24 x 7 x 365 as an Internet Data Center that provides an uninterrupted flow of information to and from the public Internet and private networks.

Looking from outside it may be an unassuming building but the KeyCenterTM was designed and constructed to withstand 100-year weather events, including hurricanes and flooding.

The facts

  • Maximum 155 MPH wind resistance (lower threshold of Category 5 hurricane) for roof membrane, the weakest component of the building
  • Located 23 miles from Atlantic Ocean in West Miami-Dade County; cannot be affected by Atlantic hurricane storm surge
  • Foundation (and first floor) 4” reinforced. Concrete slab has been built 4.4 inches above the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 100-year flood level
  • The KeyCenter is classified by the Department of Homeland Security as a “Critical Infrastructure” vital to the United States and member of the FBI InfraGuard program. As such, in the event of a major disaster impacting the surrounding area, restoration of the utilities services (power, telco, water) delivery of diesel to the KeyCenter will have priority over other infrastructures.

Additionally, three diverse conduit systems enter the building from the East, South, and West and provide multiple, redundant, fiber pathways to the Telecom Room.

But this redundant connectivity does not only apply to the building. KeyCenter is strategically located in a hub at the crossroads of many fiber optic cables.

More than 7 cables reach the US coast at a distance less than 72 km between Miami and Boca Raton, connecting continents and sub-continents to the USA. Only two cables completely surround the Latin American subcontinent. This physical redundancy ensures the communication is delivered in case of any contingency. One of them is our SAM-1, managed 100% by Telxius, a Telefonica telecommunication infrastructure company.

Our Experience

However, having best in class assets is not enough to respond to these types of critical incidents. Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans are key factors in avoiding the loss of millions in revenue for any enterprise in the case of natural disaster such as Hurricane Irma.

Real Life

Starting Sunday September 3rd, ten days before the incident, the Telefonica USA Emergency Management Team (EMT) was activated and began tracking Hurricane Irma. Since then

  • 4SEP2017: our Service Management Centre (SMC) initiated regular communications to Telefonica employees & customers that storm tracking was in full effect and that EMT + HHRR will be communicating next steps
  • 4SEP2017: Puerto Rico Under Hurricane Watch – Irma CAT3
  • 6SEP2017: Lockdown Procedures Activated
  • 7SEP2017: Lockdown personnel secured
  • 7SEP2017: South Florida Officially under Hurricane Watch – Possible impact within 48 hours
  • 9SEP2017 @ 0900: Lockdown Confirmed and Announced to Customers + Employees
  • 10SEP: Irma made landfall on southwest Florida

The Lockdown Procedure was activated on September 9th at 9am and ended on September 11th at 12:30pm.

During this time the data centre building remained staffed with 42 people both from our customers who had activated their Disaster Recovery WorkSpace service and from Telefonica. 

I wanted to express our sincere gratitude to the entire Telefonica staff for their amazing service, support and hospitality during the Lockdown.  Everyone was extremely professional and accommodating.  The entire operation was superbly well organized and everyone not only met but exceeded our expectations

Omar A Cruz, Systems Manager & Senior Network Engineer, Bilzin Sumberg

Continuous communications and latest news were proactively sent to all customers, to ensure clear and transparent status updates, meaning our customers had a complete view at all times. And when combined with emergency contacts numbers, we ensured that at any time our customers could contact us.

As a global operator with a tier one fiber optic network, from Pre-Lockdown through to Post Lockdown, our onsite data centre engineers and business leaders were engaged with our global Network Operations Centre, meticulously planning and delivering full network redundancy.

The Miami KeyCenterTM Successfully assured no service disruption for our customers throughout this event. Only our commercial offices in Brickell (Miami) were affected and our Disaster Recovery Plan for the Workplace was activated providing all the needed temporary worksites within the KeyCenter .

As for today we have started to follow up Maria, hopefully it will not reach South Florida but our colleagues from Puerto Rico fall inside the current Cone of Uncertainty.  We are actively tracking the Storm every 6 hour based on National Hurricane Center Updates http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/

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