Texas Flood: How is your datacenter?

No matter where we are from, one thing we have in common is we love to talk about the weather.  Here in Dallas, the weather has certainly given us plenty to talk about lately.  May 2015 set a new record as the wettest May in our history.  The massive amounts of water caused flash floods that stranded motorists and unfortunately resulted in four deaths.  Just this week, government officials have acknowledged that the flooding danger in Dallas County is very real.   Now that we are in mid-June, we are receiving a soaking from the remnants of Tropical Storm Bill.

With all this water, we have heard from a few customers who want to know one thing:  How safe is VIRTBIZ from flooding?   The answer: We are quite safe.

When we selected the site for our DAL1 datacenter, we used a number of different metrics in evaluating properties.  One key factor was how susceptible to flooding the site might be.

Dallas datacenter flood

The VIRTBIZ datacenter sits high above any flood projections.

A number of other Dallas datacenters and colocation facilities are located near the Trinity River.  In fact, we are aware of one facility that has had floodwaters up to their building and generator.   Even with the record amount of rain we have seen, the Trinity River has not hit it’s 100 year, or even 10 year flood stage.   When that event does occur, that facility may be unusable and equipment located there could be knocked offline, or worse, underwater.   Although property prices and construction costs were lower in that area, we eliminated properties neighboring that facility straight-away.

There are also Dallas colo facitilies that have sprung up along I-35 and the John Carpenter Freeway.   We evaluated properties in this area, but discounted them from consideration due to the risk of flood.  After the events of the last few weeks, we can be glad we did.

When we selected our Deep Ellum datacenter location, there were many factors that went into the decision.  Chief among those factors is the risk of flood damage.

Our DAL1 facility is well away from the Trinity River, and enjoys the relative elevation of the Deep Ellum area.  For starters, we sit a full 30 feet higher than the 800-year flood projection and over 40 feet above the 100-year event projection at street level.   In the event of a “natural flood” (ie: excessive rain, or the Trinity river breaks its levees) VIRTBIZ is certainly at higher-ground.  This renders us safe from flood risk.

But that’s a flood caused by Mother Nature.   We know there can be other causes of flooding.  Perhaps you’ve heard the story about the Dallas datacenter that flooded when a water-main ruptured.  Our building is further elevated from street level.   In fact, our building was constructed to be “dock high”, and this places the entirety of our floor a full 4 feet above street level.   This is why you have to climb a small set of stairs to get into our building.  If a nearby water main was to break, the run-off would flow harmlessly down the street and into storm drains.   There’s no risk of the water spontaneously jumping up 4 feet and into our door.

The next time your customer, manager, friend, competitor or co-worker asks you how protected your critical data infrastructure is from flood, you can confidently let them know “oh, we’re good!”   Although most people don’t think about a flood until it’s in the news, your VIRTBIZ team considered flood safety from the very beginning.