Frankenstorms, Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Strategies

Thursday 1st November 2012 •
Billy Law-Bregan, Communications Officer

The recent storms in America have taken out a number of high profile websites and systems, as a combination of events have cut power and comms links. Backup systems such as generators have also run into problems as some have been swamped by water, fuel supplies have been contaminated and pumps knocked out. Even where these systems are working OK, there is a real risk that some areas will not get mains power back until the weekend and fuel supplies are not that reliable at the moment.

This article highlights the lengths that some data centre providers in New York are going to in order to keep services up.

Whilst storm conditions like this are rare, especially in the UK, there are always risks that a site storing your IT Systems may become unavailable for various reasons.

DR and BC Plans

All companies should have a Disaster Recovery (DR) Plan and a Business Continuity (BC) Plan. Although they sound similar, they are actually slightly different.

The BC plan should outline how your business and it’s systems will continue to run in the event of various risk scenarios occurring. Not all these scenarios are necessarily to do with IT, (for example, what would you do if 80% of your staff won the lottery?) but with many companies hugely reliant on their IT Systems, having a robust plan in place (and testing that plan) makes sense.

A DR plan is more about getting your business back up and running following a large scale disaster. For example, finding new premises to work out of, rebuilding systems, restoring backed up data etc.

There are many articles on the Internet to get you started producing plans for DR and BC or to check you have covered all the bases, but what fits one company will not necessarily work for another.

It’s all about risk assessment, risk mitigation and contingency planning.

Look at the assets you are trying to protect. They can be physical assets or information assets (e.g. systems and data). Then look at the risks that apply to these assets and what you can do to mitigate them. Often it’s very simple to do.

Node4 can help you identify some of these risks and also do something about them.

At Node4 we have 4 high quality, fully owned and operated data centres in 3 diverse physical locations. Simply putting your IT equipment in a data centre mitigates a lot of risk:

  • Physical Security is better: All our sites are manned 24/7, have CCTV, swipe card access and are ISO27001 and PCI section 9 (physical security) compliant
  • Internet and network connectivity is better: We have diverse connections to the internet with multiple providers
  • Power is protected: We have redundant UPS (Uninteruptable Power Supply) systems with multiple generator backup
  • The environment is controlled: We have redundant air conditioning units and automatic fire detection and suppression systems

Visit our colocation page for more information.

All these things reduce the risk of something going wrong, but if it does (the oft-quoted “plane landing on the building” – we’re not on any flight paths, by the way) you can split your systems across 2 or more sites. This could be 2 Node4 sites, a Node4 site and your head office, or Node4 and another data centre provider. Our 10Gb network is physically diverse and breaks out to the internet at different locations, so there are plenty of options for connecting your systems.

Alternatively, our cloud services provide a way of virtualising systems and running them in a robust virtual environment. This can be split across 2 sites if necessary, or be available as a relatively low cost back up solution to your “on premises” systems.

There are lots of other services that we can offer to help your business run more smoothly, both in normal operating conditions and in an emergency situation. It might never happen, but if it does, it’s best to be prepared.

Download our disaster recovery datasheet for more information on how to protect your business.

Speak to our sales team for more information on 0330 008 0000 or email sales@node4.co.uk

Rik Williams

Head of Data Centre Operations

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