July 5, 2012

10 Steps to Prepare Your Data Center for the Zombie Apocalypse

Is your data center ready for the coming zombie apocalypse? 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. I generally recommend hiring a zombie specialist to develop your zombie survival plan (ZSP) but there are steps you can take on your own.

Start with establishing the goals for your ZSP. For most organizations, ZSP goals will fall into 5 categories

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

A good ZSP is measurable and testable. Data centers are used to measuring availability and power usage effectiveness (PUE). Your ZSP needs a similar metrics program. A best practice is to assign weighted values to your ZSP goals, measure them quarterly, and report to executive management on your composite zombie protection effectiveness (ZPE) score.

After you’ve created your ZSP, it’s time to make some tangible changes to your data center design. There are dozens of ways to harden your data center against the undead, but years of research and experience have taught us that the following 10 suggestions have the greatest ZPE impact and the highest ROI.

  1. Install multi-factor authentication on every door – It is unclear whether zombies will be able to use an iris/retinal scanner, but we’re certain they won’t remember their pin codes. We recommend iris, card and pin code on every door.
  2. Mantrap all of your hallways – If an infection breaks out inside your facility, it is critical that you can contain the zombies in specific zones. Also, avoid at all costs installing crash-bar overrides to the doors. The fire marshal may cite you for this, but after the apocalypse you won’t need permits anyway.
  3. Dig a well – Your data center needs a good supply of water. Zombie swarms have an annoying habit of knocking out local utility service so you need to plan ahead.
  4. Expand your on-site fuel supply – Most data centers maintain a 24-48 hour supply of diesel with refill contracts. During a zombie attack, your fuel SLAs will likely not be met. We recommend at least a 1000 day supply. As a side note, it is theoretically possible to convert decaying zombie bodies into bio-fuel. This may be the only way to create a positive ROI on Bloom Box fuel cell generators. 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. Install roof-top gardens and animal pens – You’re going to need a food supply. It needs to be out of reach of the zombies. Your roof is the perfect place to start farming. Adding a garden to your roof also creates the opportunity to start using soil-side economizing as part of your normal cooling strategy, improving your PUE. Also, animal waste can be another source of biofuel for those Bloom fuel cells.
  6. Ramen. Lots and Lots of Ramen – We mentioned you need food right? Well your fellow data center survivors are mostly tech geeks like you, and tech geeks love Ramen. Ramen also keeps forever so you don’t have to worry about updating your supply every 5 years. Go to Costco, buy 20 pallets, and store them in your warehouse. We also recommend a large supply of tactical bacon. Ramen will keep you fed, but tacbac will keep you happy. You’ll thanks us later.
  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 you need to sleep, and you 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. There is of course the risk that you’ll accidentally kill non-zombie survivors but you probably wouldn’t like them anyway. They’d just keep trying to eat your Ramen.
  8. Arm your 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 your location. And just think how cool your security staff will look on a daily basis with a crossbow on their back and a machete on their hip. Braveheart blue facepaint is of course optional but is highly encouraged.
  9. Buy a complete copy of the Walking Dead on DVD – You’re going to need some forms of entertainment. It might as well be educational for your current predicament. Also, consider marketing your data center to gaming and adult website customers. Their content may help keep you warm on those long winter evenings.
  10. Install Jefferies tubes, everywhere – If your mantraps are full of zombies, you will need other paths through your data center. A well designed system of Jefferies tubes ensures that you don’t get cut off from food, fuel and fellow survivors.

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 tour of our facilities. 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.


It was correctly pointed out by @MBLeib on twitter than our ZSP recommendations failed to address the need for a large supply of Scotch. Booze should absolutely be a part of your zombie survival plans. We recommend a multipart strategy:

  1. A healthy supply of Scotch, Vodka and Gin will not only help dull the senses when needed, but can also double as an anti-septic.
  2. Beer must be kept cold. Under the raised-floor is a perfect place to stockpile a variety of your favorite microbrews.
  3. Since repopulation is also a concern, make sure you include a supply of Smirnoff Ice, Zima and Jagermeister.
  4. Invest now in a still and plant corn and potatos on the roof. Consider these dual-purpose crops.

This is precisely the type of community interaction that will make us all stronger. Please keep the good ideas coming.

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1 Comment »

  1. PJ said,

    July 6, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

    During a zombie apocalypse, multi-tasking tools/utilities/and food are critical to maximize your survival chances.

    Grapes are a food source and can be turned into juice and wine!
    Grains are good for breads and beer.
    Yeast is needed for many baking needs and required for almost any fermentation!

    So your point of liquor used for medical needs as well as entertainment is essential!

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