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Acquia Preparedness Helps Calm Hurricane Sandy

For a family in the path of a powerful hurricane, preparedness might mean stocking up on fresh water and canned food, or even installing a generator. For the Operations Team at Acquia, preparedness in the face of an encroaching “superstorm” meant working closely with Amazon Web Services to ensure continuous availability of Acquia hosted websites.

As the National Weather Service sounded warnings of a hurricane that was developing into a “perfect storm,” the Acquia team reached out to our Technical Account Manager at Amazon Web Services, whose network of data centers provide the foundation for Acquia hosted websites. We worked with Amazon to review staffing plans for the duration of the storm, and to devise a communications plan that would take into account severe storm conditions. Built on Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud, Acquia has augmented Amazon’s offerings by building additional technologies on top of their platform to ensure the application layer, load balancing, file systems, and web servers are all highly available.

As we worked with the Amazon team, their high degree of preparation and comprehensive plans to ensure expert staffing would remain consistent throughout the storm assured us that we were fully prepared for all contingencies. Amazon Web Services staff conducted multiple tests of their generator backup systems and verified the effectiveness of the added layers of redundancy.

Because Acquia has Operations staff at key locations around the globe, we were able to assign staff in Australia and Portugal to provide on-call support should our Operations centers in the U.S. Northeast lose power. Fortunately, Acquia Operations centers remained unaffected during the hurricane, and Operations personnel in multiple locations monitored vital systems throughout the course of the storm.

At its peak, Sandy’s hurricane-force winds extended 175 miles from its center, with tropical force winds reaching up to 520 miles. When Amazon’s Northern Virginia’s data center fell within the storm’s reach, the communications strategy dictated that Acquia receive hourly updates from the Amazon team, and that any changes in status be communicated immediately to the Acquia team.

As the worst of the “superstorm” materialized, two Amazon Web Services facilities transitioned to generator power. These transitions were seamless and prevented any disruption either to Acquia services or to operation of customer sites.

The joint preparations of the Acquia and Amazon Web Services teams provided the communications strategy, availability of personnel in key locations around the globe, continuous monitoring, and comprehensive contingency plans to ensure that even a “Frankenstorm” couldn’t impact the availability or performance of Acquia hosted sites.

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