Data centers largely unaffected by East Coast quake

The earthquake was the biggest to hit Virginia in more than a century, according to the US Geological Survey

Staff were evacuated at several data centers following Tuesday's earthquake but operations at most facilities appear to have been unaffected, according to Twitter posts and other sources.

The earthquake was centered in Virginia and hit just before 2 p.m. local time with a magnitude of 5.8, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. That's not particularly big by global standards, but it was enough to shake buildings and send people pouring into the streets in Boston, New York City and Washington, D.C., according to news reports. It was the biggest earthquake to hit Virginia since 1897, according to the USGS.

Amazon Web Services, which operates a large data center in Virginia, said its services were unaffected. "All AWS services in the US East region are operating normally at the present time," a spokeswoman said via e-mail.

One AWS customer did report a brief uptick in page loading times. SeatGeek, a search site for tickets, saw a "pretty nasty" spike in its page response times when the earthquake struck.

"Over here at SeatGeek, we were excitedly discussing the tremor when Mike, our trusty sysadmin, realized that our Amazon AWS servers were all in Virginia, right near the epicenter," the company said in a blog post, where it posted a graph showing the slowdown.

"Lessons Learned? 1) Earthquakes make Web Servers sad [and] 2) Real time system monitoring is awesome," the company wrote. The spike lasted about two minutes, SeatGeek said.

Many other service providers rushed to Twitter after the earthquake to report that their operations were unaffected, including Microsoft's Dynamics Online CRM group.

"East Coast earthquake has not impacted the [North America] datacenter so CRM Online is business as usual; close monitoring during aftershocks," the CRM group said in a Twitter post.

"The Razor data center was not impacted by the #earthquake. All services are currently normal," said hosting company Razor Servers, whose main data center is in Philadelphia.

"Just ran regression tests in our VA data center- Everything is up & running normally," Contact Solutions said in a tweet. "I guess we can say we run an earthquake-proof service!"

Bluto's Hosting, Clook Internet, PAETEC and Distributed Systems Service were among others reporting no interruption to service. Big commercial operators such as Digital Realty Trust, QTS, Sungard and Terremark also had no problems, Datacenter Dynamics reported.

Several data center workers said they had been evacuated from their data centers, one as far north as Boston. Other companies jumped on the chance to promote disaster recovery services.

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com

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