RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — David Jones ducked no questions and made no excuses as he talked about the power failure that led to a significant power outage at Peak 10’s headquarters in Charlotte.
“Our message is to stay focused and be straight up,” Jones said. “We’re not discounting the impact of what happened, but we have a business to run, and we are moving forward.”
Power failed at Peak 10’s Charlotte data center on Sunday night, and only half of its backup systems kicked in. The outage triggered calls to personnel at other Peak 10 centers (the firm operates five) as well as vendors, consultants and customers to try to figure out what happened.
“Everybody knew what they had to do once they got here and mobilized,” Jones recalled. “Our employees were heroic. They were on the site and working with our customers; our general managers and operation staffs at every center were on call and involved in the process. We were making every smart move we know to take in order to help our customers.”
“It’s Like CSI”
By midday Monday, Jones said, power had been restored. But the investigation into what happened continues.
“It’s like CSI around here,” he said, referring to one of the CBS Crime Scene Investigation programs.
In fact, Jones used the term “forensics” several times as he described Peak 10’s efforts to determine why power failed — and to ensure there wasn’t a repeat in the offing. “There was a unique situation that was uncovered through the forensics that have been done,” he said but declined to disclose specifics.
As for customers, Jones said “they will be made whole”. “We have some naturally very upset customers,” he explained. “Our main concern is our clients who were affected and seeing them back on line. That’s been our focus.”
Outages and downtime even at data centers do occur. “I just talked to a friend of mine in the business who had an outage,” Jones said. “Misery loves company.”
Peak 10 has been on a roll, with good news from fast growth, expansion, and plans underway to expand its Charlotte operation. All those hurricanes in Florida helped drive business to Peak 10’s two data centers in Florida. Then came Sunday. “Murphy’s Law,” Jones said about the bad news.
Crisis Response Key, Another CEO Says
How Peak 10 is dealing with the crisis is important to its future, said Vivek Wadhwa, the former chief executive officer of software firm Relativity.
“Any business can have a disaster like this,” Wadhwa said. “From Tylenol to the hurricane in New Orleans — there is nothing you can do about it.
“Businesses are not judged by avoiding disaster but dealing with it as it occurs,” he added. “The challenge now is how you deal with the crisis and deal with your customers.
“The challenge is not to get into a state of denial and to try to hide it under a rug. That tactic always loses. On the other hand, if you are up front, say here’s what happened, here’s what we’re doing, and we’ll do what we need to do to make you whole — you will actually build better customer relations.”
Jones is taking that up-front approach.
“Not all of our customers were affected. Even so, a 2-second outage for any customer is too much,” he said. “We’re very positive about this going forward. It’s how you respond to glitches when they occur.”
Rick Smith is managing editor of Local Tech Wire.