Plan B talks to customers affected by the Global Switch outage

Global Switch, the leading large-scale, carrier neutral data centre provider in Europe and Asia-Pacific suffered a power outage last week which left customers without access to IT systems for a number of hours. The outage was caused by lightning at 5pm on 23 June. Lightning struck the national grid, causing a frequency dip which took out 3 floors of their London data centre. Although backup power solutions were in place, they didn’t work properly and failed to provide the necessary backup power, resulting in service interruption for many of Global Switch’s customers.

On an iconic evening, that of the Brexit vote, an IT outage was even more of a problem than normal for some customers. We first heard about it when some of our customers, who have additional Disaster Recovery services with us for precisely such an instance, contacted us to go through the motions of switching over to our recovery systems so they could continue operating, business as usual. One customer, who provides financial management software was under considerable tension as customers depend on their software to move investment funds around. At the height of the Brexit result, this was an extremely important time for their customers to have continuity of service. Brand reputation was on the line if they could not deliver this to their customers. Unfortunately it was out of their hands as their systems went down.

Another customer, a luxury holiday and travel company, also felt the impact of the lightning strike as their systems also went down. In the hours following losing all access to their IT systems, they were frustrated at the lack of communication from their data centre provider, and were left with no understanding of what had happened, what the recovery process was and how long this might take. So they approached Plan B, and were left with the decision of whether to immediately transfer to their recovery platform, or to wait out the outage, not knowing how long they could be waiting. At what point do you kick in your recovery plan? This question is a difficult one to answer when you’re not in control of the outage and don’t have the details to enable you to make an informed decision. What both customers discovered is that knowledge is power, and without the knowledge they were taking big gambles on the best way to proceed.

We understand from our customers that power and therefore service were eventually resumed around 5 hours later. The financial impact and reputational impact were felt, although both businesses could recover this time.