The past few blogs have told stories about bad backups, Amazon’s cloud outage, the impending death of RIM, and extended power outages. For the sake of argument and this article, we will continue on this path to emphasize an important concept, redundancy (pun intended).
So, what is redundancy? As a data center, we live and breathe this term, but for those who don’t live in the Data Cave, this term might be foreign. Some define redundancy as “Superfluous repetition or overlapping, or superfluity.” We beg to differ. Data has morphed into the currency of today, and redundancy ensures its viability. This is anything but a superfluous task. Rather, we prefer another definition, “the additional, predictable information so included, and the degree of predictability thereby created.” What organization doesn’t prefer a predictable work environment?
Any organization craves predictability because in lives, there is so much we cannot control. Developing redundancy (and sometimes secondary redundancy) gives the peace of mind and control that we so desperately need in a world in which we have so little control.
In late June, a massive windstorm blew through Northern Virginia and took down Fairfax County’s 911 system, which operated through Verizon Wireless. 2.3 million residents were left without 911 service for several days. Not only did the storm interrupt the 911 service power supply, one of its generators failed to activate, despite the fact that it had been routinely tested 3 days prior. Fortunately, no one died due to this failure, but the effects are still grave. Harry Mitchell, Verizon’s Director of Public Relations, acknowledge the gravity of the situation and their desire to remedy the situation.
“Once we complete our restoral efforts, we will investigate fully the causes of the problems and provide a root-cause analysis to the appropriate officials. The powerful storm appears to have caused problems on multiple layers of facilities, from the commercial power failure to damage to our backup power supply, to downed and damaged lines. The combination of those factors led to issues with various aspects of the 911 system.”
This case highlights in the importance of multiple levels of redundancy. Verizon had the appropriate generators. They had a backup plan. What they didn’t have was a backup-backup plan. Redundancy is a valuable risk management tool, and organizations should use it to furthest degree possible. Colocating at a data center is a great first step to ensuring your data is secure. The second step would be to have an additional site for disaster recovery to ensure you’re equipment is redundant. When choosing a data center, for colocation or disaster recovery, look at their redundancies. Do they have a backup-backup (or backup-backup-backup) plan? At Data Cave, we obviously know the importance of being redundant. We have redundant equipment for all four quadrants of our building plus redundancy at the 1,300 square foot data suite level. Our design allows for more redundancy than your typical wide open floor data center. We know that being prepared for the disaster is half the battle. So, backup your backup plans and be prepared. Those redundancies will save you time, effort, and money in case of disaster.
We all know that backups are important. But beyond just having backups, having a comprehensive validation and restoration strategy is paramount as well.
Case in point, Toy Story 2, which was accidentally deleted through an errant command by an administrator. But beyond that, the admins found that the backups were bad. Think about that for a second – they go to their backups, and find out they’re worthless. Nobody thought to check that stuff ahead of time. Only when they really needed them did they realize they weren’t going to work.
Luckily, someone had archived a backup copy on a computer at home, which ultimately kept the movie from going away forever. But the story is clear, the Popeil method of “set it and forget it” related to computer data backups isn’t sufficient.
Periodic restoration and checking of backups is essential to make sure you know you’ll have what you need when you need it.
Data Cave is a privately owned and operated fully redundant Midwest data center located in Columbus, Indiana convenient to Indianapolis, Louisville and Cincinnati. Please contact us for more information at 866-514-2283.