Is your data center ready for the coming zombie apocalypse?

by Bill Dougherty
30 October 2012

Data center designers generally do a good job preparing for conventional risks like earthquakes, fires, floods, and hurricanes, but if your disaster recovery plan doesn’t include provisions for dealing with the undead, your risk mitigation strategy has a gaping hole. Data centers are a natural refuge from zombie hoards, but only if you prepare in advance.

Unlike conventional disaster recovery (DR)/business continuity planning (BCP), zombie preparedness has a unique set of goals beyond data protection and business resumption. RPO/RTO goals go out the window when there’s a geek chewing on your skull. RagingWire has developed a comprehensive zombie survival plan (ZSP) to ensure the long-term survivability of our facilities and our people.

Data Center Preparedness for Zombie Attack

ZSPs vary by company depending on their goals. RagingWire has identified 5 priorities that form the foundation of our zombie preparedness:

  • Containment – Keep the zombies out
  • Endurance – Stay alive until the zombies are gone
  • Sustenance – Don’t go hungry
  • Eradication – Kill every zombie you find
  • Repopulation – Breed new humans for the continuation of the race

Based on these goals, RagingWire redesigned its facilities from the ground up. To do this, we had to create a way of measuring the usefulness of various protections. The zombie protection effectiveness (ZPE) score is a composite average based on a weighted measure of our 5 goals. We use ZPE to prioritize changes we make to our infrastructure, processes, and people. While there are literally dozens of protections we’ve implemented, there are 11 key steps we took that had the greatest ROI and ZPE. Because we want to give back to the community, we are sharing these with the public.

  1. Multi-factor authentication on every door – Our iris scanners verify living tissue, so zombies can’t authenticate past them, but the more protection the better, because we’re certain they won’t remember their pin codes. We installed iris, card and pin code readers on every door.
  2. Mantrap every hallway – If an infection breaks out inside our facility, it is critical to contain the zombies in specific zones. Also, we removed crash-bar overrides to the doors. The fire marshal has cited us for this, but after the apocalypse we won’t need permits anyway.
  3. Dig a well – Our data center needs a good supply of water. Zombie swarms have an annoying habit of knocking out local utility service so we planned ahead. We also put in filtration systems and above-ground storage. It’s important to have a clean supply when the bodies are piling up at your door.
  4. Expanded on-site fuel supply – Most data centers maintain a 24-48 hour supply of diesel with refill contracts. During a zombie attack, our fuel SLAs will likely not be met. We now have a 1000 day supply. As a side note, it is theoretically possible to convert decaying zombie bodies into bio-fuel. This creates an interesting justification for adding Bloom Box fuel cell generators to your design.  On the plus side, zombie biofuel likely generates less CO and CO2 waste than diesel, so you won’t have to worry so much about global warming.
  5. Roof-top gardens and animal pens – We’re going to need a food supply. It needs to be out of reach of the zombies. Our roof is the perfect place to start farming. Adding a garden to our roof also creates the opportunity to start using soil-side economizing as part of our normal cooling strategy, improving our PUE. Also, animal waste can be another source of biofuel for those Bloom fuel cells.
  6. Ramen. Lots and Lots of Ramen – We mentioned needing food right? Well our fellow data center survivors are mostly tech geeks like us, and tech geeks love Ramen. Ramen also keeps forever so we don’t have to worry about updating our supply every 5 years. We try to maintain at least a 20 pallet supply in our warehouse but for some reason, it keeps disappearing. We also keep onsite a large supply of tactical bacon. Ramen will keep us fed, but tacbac will keep us happy.
  7. Automated machine gun turrets with clear fields of fire – The best way to keep zombies out it is to kill them efficiently as they approach the building. But we need to sleep, and we don’t want to go outside to reload. An automated, belt-fed machine gun system that can be reloaded from inside the building and can fire automatically with motion sensors is the best option.
  8. Security staff with crossbows and machetes – Research has taught us that the best weapons for close-quarters zombie battle are quiet and reusable. Crossbows never run out of ammo as long as you retrieve your bolts during lulls in the fighting. They also don’t make a lot of noise, unlike shotguns, so they tend not to attract other zombies to our location. And our security staff looks pretty cool with a crossbow on their back and a machete on their hip. Braveheart-blue face paint is of course optional but is highly encouraged.
  9. A complete copy of the Walking Dead on DVD – We’re going to need some forms of entertainment. It might as well be educational for our current predicament.
  10. Jefferies tubes, everywhere – If our mantraps are full of zombies, we will need other paths through your data center. A well designed system of Jefferies tubes ensures that we don’t get cut off from food, fuel, and fellow survivors.
  11. Booze – Let’s face it, after a long day of administrating servers and shooting Zs in the head, you need a drink. Something to take the edge off. We have employed a multi-part strategy.
    • A healthy supply of Scotch, Vodka and Gin not only helps dull the senses when needed, but can also double as an anti-septic.
    • Beer must be kept cold. Under the raised-floor is a perfect place to stockpile a variety of our favorite microbrews.
    • Since repopulation is also a concern, we’ve included a supply of Smirnoff Ice, Zima and Jagermeister.
    • Corn and potatoes on the roof are dual use crops. We can distill them for spirits or fry them up for a late night snack.

We are constantly revising and extending our ZSP best practices guides. This is a community effort. If you create and test your own solutions, please share them in the comments section below. No one knows when the zombie attacks will occur, but we’ll stay online as a resource for as long as possible. If you would like to see these suggestions in action, please schedule a our data center tour. We don’t recommend dropping by unannounced, because you never know when we’ll be testing the machine gun turrets. Good luck, and God bless.

Bill Dougherty

Sr. Vice President & Chief Technology Officer