Powernet and the 2 Day Power Cut

5 July, 2012 (14:49) | Business, ISP's, Powernet | Tony Tugulu


We recently experienced a power cut here at Powernet Towers. It was no ordinary power cut, oh no this one lasted two days. ‘How can this happen?’ I hear you ask. After all Powernet are based in the sprawling metropolis that is Milton Keynes, not out in the sticks, hundreds of miles away from the nearest electrical engineer.

The problem was down to a faulty part in the electrical service-entrance to our building. Unfortunately the only replacement part available in the UK was in Glasgow, so it took a day to get it couriered down to our building. By the time the problem had been located, a new part sourced and fitted, Powernet Towers had been without electricity for two days.

Faced with a problem like this most businesses would have been forced to shut-up shop. As a business grade ISP, shutting down for a few days is simply not an option (those networks are not going to monitor themselves). So once the power went down in our building we started up our generator on the roof, providing enough power to run essential services (technical support, NOC and the kettle).

After the first day without power we realised that our fire alarm system was no longer functioning and so everyone was sent home (health and safety is very important). Again this was not really a problem for Powernet as most of our core internal services are not located in our office but hosted remotely in a local data centre (they have two large generators). Our IP phone system can divert calls to staff mobiles and IP phones at home, meaning most Powernet staff members were able to pack up their laptops and work from home.

So despite the power cut it was business as usual for Powernet and its customers. A quick review of the reasons why we were able to successfully navigate this potential 2 day disaster:

  • Resilient power supply – UPS and a generator on the roof meant that we could keep the office open.
  • Off Site hosting – Our essential internal services (email, phone, network monitoring software etc) are all hosted in a dedicated hosting facility that is off site (yes in the cloud) so even when our office is in darkness our servers (and our business) are still running.
  • IP phone system – Our IP phone system was able to divert specific calls to appropriate staff mobiles. Some staff members have IP phones at home meaning they can be in the office even when they are working from home.
  • A home worker policy – Some Powernet staff already work from home, so it was business as usual for them. Others were able to access essential services because they were in the cloud. We keep things secure by using VPN tunnels into our network.
  • Team spirit – Last but not least, when faced with a challenge all our staff (especially technical) worked together to minimise any disruption to our customers.

Our recent experience is proof that any business can keep operating even when the unforeseen happens; you just need to think like a Scout ‘Be Prepared.’ Apart from the generator (despite our name, we don’t sell those) Powernet provide co-location, remote worker and IP phone solutions that will keep any business running when things go wrong.

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