io9 is a Gawker-owned site that covers science fiction and related culture, science, and other geekiness.  In an interesting turn of events, the Hurricane/Super Storm Sandy wiped out the power to the site’s data center.  Thus, the site went down.

It seems kind of fitting that a sci-fi site was blasted off the planet by some freak weather event nicknamed “Frankenstorm.”  That seems much cooler than them saying: “Sandy didn’t like what we said about hurricanes.  Then she knocked out the power to our data center.  She could’ve just left a comment on our site or tweeted her rage…”

In all seriousness, io9 (and its Gawker site siblings) found a decent solution.  Granted, the Gawker people likely freaked out when their data centers went down and their sites were displaying 503 error pages.  However, it is clear that they calmed down and thought of a way to continue despite the situation. The error pages now state what happened and now point people to their back up sites using Tumblr that the staffers set up to continue publishing content while the data center situation is straightened out.


For instance, the io9 503 error page now automatically redirects to the io9 Updates site; its introductory post io9 Has Survived Frankenstorm! states:

Welcome to io9’s emergency space station data center. When storms took out our New York City data center, we had to start broadcasting from low Earth orbit. We’ll be here for as long as it takes for the engineers working planetside to get back up! Welcome.

This was some smart thinking with a splash of the site’s personality.  I’m sure that Gawker will explore options in geographically distributing their hosting and data center solutions more after this mess all ends to hedge against another Sandy.

As I think about it more… io9 claims to come from the future.  I’m sure that the staffers from the future chose Tumblr to remain compatible with our “vintage” or “retro” (let’s give ourselves credit and not rely upon unhip terms like “obsolete”) technology.  However, if they truly come from the future, why didn’t they see Frankenstorm coming and prepare in advance by using data centers out its path?

Regardless if you and your organization can or cannot anticipate future events that seem straight out of sci-fi, following Gawker’s example won’t hurt if you’re caught in a similar situation.  Hat tip to the peeps at Hubspot for their recent Internet Outage Crash Your Website? The Marketer’s Response Plan post, too.