Microsoft Executes Own Disaster Recovery Plan Post-Japan Earthquake

By Fahmida Y. Rashid  |  Posted 2011-10-06

Worried about aftershocks, Microsoft undertook a massive data migration project following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit northern Japan in March.

While applications and services in the data center in Japan continued to run as normal, Microsoft decided to move all the data and applications to a different data center in North America "just in case," Adrienne Hall, general manager of Trustworthy Computing Communications, told eWEEK. The data included 10 million Hotmail and MSN email accounts, as well as data stored on Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Services, according to Hall.

"We decided based on the seismic reports that were coming in that suggested there may be follow-on earthquakes that we should proactively move the services out," Hall said.

The migration project took about a week. While the company had previously practiced data migration as part of its disaster recovery and incident response preparation, this was a "big move" because of the amount of customer data involved, according to Hall.

"We had no service disruptions during that period at all. It was a completely seamless move," said Hall.

The data in the main data center in Japan was also replicated. Microsoft then offered the facility to the Japanese government, which used the data center for hosting websites that published public service information such as road closures, she said. The company was able to help out other organizations by giving access to the facility without disrupting operations, Hall said.

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