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Charles Babcock
Charles Babcock
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Cloud Becoming A Major Disaster Recovery Strategy

In the wake of the Japan earthquake and tsunami, Nirvanix, Equinix, and other cloud companies are offering a helping hand to companies disrupted by -- or concerned about -- natural disasters.

Some businesses are looking at the global reach of the Internet and cloud computing as a way to extend a new form of disaster assistance -- one business offering service to a company in an affected area as a way to help it keep its processes running.

In cloud operations, it is expected that multiple copies of a data set will be created and kept in sync. Three is the magic number for Cassandra, MongoDB, and various other big data handling systems. Cloud storage company Nirvanix says it will shift a copy to another continent if your data is in its Node 3 data center in Japan.

"Should our customers have the desire to move their data out of the region, we will make sure that it is transitioned smoothly and in a timely manner, with no disruption to their business operations," said Scott Genereaux, CEO of Nirvanix. The service will be provided for free, and options include moving it to a data center in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, or Frankfurt, Germany.

The offer is merely a precaution, as Nirvanix expects its Japan data center to continue operating. It's 200 miles away from the northern Honshu area affected by the tsunami. But the offer is still one that some customers may consider, given the fact that Japanese utilities have imposed rolling blackouts. It also remains unclear whether authorities will have the ability to contain the threatened meltdown of the Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

The practice of a business offering a free service to another in an area hit by natural disaster could become a new form of international aid, says David Vellente, co-founder of, a professional IT community site where members share problem solutions for free. "In times like these, we want to send money, aid, resources... prayers. This gesture by Nirvanix is business helping other businesses in a time of need," he said.

Cloud computing practices make the extension of this type of aid much more feasible than before.

In addition to data protection, the state of undersea cabling in the earthquake area has remained a cause for concern. "We understand the sub-sea communications infrastructure has been impaired and would like to offer our assistance in the restoration effort," said Kei Furuta, managing director of co-location facility provider Equinix in Tokyo.

Equinix is willing to generate VLANs over its exchange fabric to let those service providers with spare capacity to set up bilateral VLAN connections through its two Tokyo facilities, which have not been affected by the disaster. The service will be provided for free, if a request is sent to

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