Amid extreme winter weather and rolling power outages, cloud-centric technology businesses across Texas remain online, though some are considering additional steps to further help employees mitigate surprise power issues in the future.
Consider the situation at Liongard, a fast-growing, cloud-based software company in Houston. Liongard develops software that allows MSPs to standardize, secure and scale their businesses. The company remains online amid the storms and power outages, but CEO Joe Alapat says Liongard is mulling additional steps to further assist employees for the long-haul.
"Individually, we are having periodic/rolling power outages and water shortages (due to low pressure)," Alapat told ChannelE2E over email. "Having multiple sources of energy has clearly been of value during this event -- natural gas stoves and natural gas fireplaces were our most consistent option. Having extended battery devices that help us charge our phones/laptops during electricity outages have also been helpful."
In terms of next potential steps, Alapat is considering two personal moves that involve:
- A Solar/crank camping battery device: This should only cost about $100 to $200, he notes.
- A natural gas backup power generator: This will cost a bit more - $5,000 to $15,000, he estimates.
"For our team, we are considering distributing the solar/crank devices to key staff members to prepare for future situations," he adds.
Like many technology businesses, Liongard's teammates are distributed across the United States. As a result, "We’ve been operational with alternate teammates stepping in to cover for individuals that needed to take care of personal matters or simply lost connectivity," Alapat says.
Texas Power Outages: MSPs and CSPs
Meanwhile, MSPs in the region are facing similar issues of connectivity and dealing with basic personal matters of ensuring that family members have heat, water, food, etc., Alapat says.
"Since they have all shifted to a hybrid mode of work , employees are distributed across the city/state with some that are minimally impacted while others have faced the brunt of the outages," he notes.
Also of note: Cloud services providers (CSPs) and third-party data center providers have generally held up well, Alapat adds:
"Having infrastructure situated in the cloud or in redundantly powered/cooled facilities has proven to be valuable again, much like in post-hurricane extended outages like we’ve observed in the US in the past. If client infrastructure was setup like this, then these outages didn’t create a ton of work for MSPs. Unfortunately, for those that had critical IT infrastructure in local offices or in non-redundant setups, this has proven to be another wake up call to transition out of this legacy infrastructure."
Reinforcing Alapat's point, managed CSPs such as Rackspace near San Antonio, Texas, say their services remain online and protected via various uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and diesel generator systems.
Texas Power Restoration: Tricky Process
Amid the crippling cold weather, the Texas power grid this week has faced a perfect-storm emergency -- essentially, plummeting power supplies coupled with skyrocketing customer demand.
Further complicating matters, the Texas power grid essentially is an island. Indeed, it does not connect to U.S. East Coast or West Coast power grids, and therefore can't tap into those networks for emergency power feeds.
To navigate that reality, CenterPoint Energy and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) have urged all Texas customers who have electric and/or natural gas service to immediately conserve both.
In a February 17 note to customers, CenterPoint Energy said:
"We’re ready to restore service to our customers, but introducing this demand too rapidly could result in additional service interruptions and safety risks for both electric and natural gas customers. Let’s come together and help our neighbors who have been without power for an extended period of time. This in an immediate call to action for our customers – if you have power, please conserve electricity and natural gas to help your neighbors. Thank you for your continued patience."
The rolling power outages may continue for several more days, according to Texas officials, in order to ensure the power grid is gradually restored in a safe way.