The month of September marks National Preparedness Month. This month-long initiative encourages both families and businesses to “Be Ready” (www.ready.gov) and prepare for the worst types of disasters, be those natural or man-made. If you are a business owner, this is the perfect time to begin taking a serious look at your business, and evaluate just where things would stand if a disaster were to strike.
Here are a few good questions that you could ask yourself:
1) What would happen to my operations if a disaster were to strike my physical location? What types of business data would be lost? How would this impact myself, my customers, and my employees?
2) Have I put significant thought into disaster recovery or continuity planning for my business, should the worst happen?
3) I feel that I really do need to begin planning for disaster recovery for my business, but where do I start?
These are questions that we hear from clients all the time, and the good news is that it’s never too late to begin disaster recovery planning for your business! All of us here at Data Cave are highly experienced in this arena, and we can help guide you through this process of planning for the worst.
If you know that this process is something you need to engage in for your business, the following 2 steps will help to get you started:
1) Begin to take inventory of all the different types of “data” that your business collects and works with on a regular basis. It should include any information on your customers, tax and accounting information, and everything in between. As you are going through this process, ask yourself: “Out of all this data that my company has, which data can I absolutely NOT afford to lose?” We recently wrote a separate blog post about this very topic, that should help you even further.
2) Evaluate your business’ physical location. The goal here is to do an honest assessment of the structure itself, and determine exactly how secure it would be against several disasters such as fire, flooding, or a tornado. This process should help give you a more tangible view of just how your business location would fare should a disaster occur.
Going through these 2 different processes will help inform you on what your business’ most critical data includes, as well as give you knowledge on whether or not your main location is well suited to house that data. Once you know these pieces of information, the decision to move forward with a disaster recovery plan can be made much more easily.
National Preparedness Month serves as a great reminder to begin taking the steps to ensure that your business can survive any type of disaster, and all of us here at Data Cave are here to help you in any way we can, regardless of where you may be in this process. If you would like any further information, or to discuss this further, please leave a comment or Contact Us. We’d love to hear from you!
Share this article with your friends!
It’s usually common sense that liquids and electronics don’t mix. But no matter how careful we are and think it won’t happen to us, accidents do indeed happen, and they tend to happen to some (like myself) a little more often than we’d like.
I, Kara Manon, am a grade A klutz.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve tripped, spilled things, sprained something, etc. I seem to, however, have amazingly good luck with electronics, despite my best efforts. A couple of months ago, I was folding laundry and found my brand new Fitbit still attached to my jeans. Jeans that had gone through both the washer and the dryer. Oops. While the Fitbit Ultra is (supposedly) nowhere near waterproof, it still worked like a charm! It’s a technological miracle.
You’ve seen me rave about my Macbook Pro which I am still completely in love with (as long as the rainbow pinwheel of death stays away). But last week, I had a close call. I was sitting in the NOC at Data Cave, chatting with my fellow colleagues about something important I’m sure, when near tragedy struck. I knocked my cup of coffee over, directly onto my Macbook keyboard. I reacted with, what I can only describe as cheetah-like speed, and lifted it up while turning it over to let the coffee pour off into a giant ominous puddle of coffee on my desk.
Patrick quickly grabbed some paper towels and started soaking it up while I stood there holding my dripping computer in the air. Finally, I was able to put it down and pat it off. I used a can of compressed air to blow the remaining coffee out from under my keys.
Guess what? Still works and there have been zero issues. In fact, my computer smells like a terrific roast of Green Mountain Southern Pecan coffee. But now, I promise, I will never have an open cup of anything near any sort of computer in the future because it isn’t possible that I will continue to remain that lucky.
So, what is the moral of the story?
1) Obviously, be careful! If you know your weaknesses – like my clumsiness – make precautions accordingly by using things like lids (sippy cups, if necessary) or keyboard covers.
2) Know your backup plan. If all of that coffee had leaked down into my hard drive, what would I have done? Honestly, I don’t know that I’m fully prepared for that (at least not mentally). Of course all of my documents are backed up through Data Cave’s offsite backup program which definitely keeps any hardware loss from being catastrophic. One perk of Apple products is that the App Store, which will tell me what apps I’ve downloaded/purchased saving time if I have to set up a new computer. I also use 1Password so I don’t have to worry about browser saved passwords.
But, any kind catastrophes has the potential to be detrimental. So.. think fast! What is your course of action if a cup of coffee ruins your computer? Or worse, if a storm floods your business? Are you backed up? Do you even know all the files and applications that are on your computers or servers? Maybe we should talk.
Feel free to share your almost disasters, full on catastrophes, and/or disaster recovery plans in the comments.
Congratulations! You’ve been given the task of researching and finding a data center for your company’s IT equipment. Where do you even start?
Many of the people I talk to feel like Goldilocks. Don’t remember the story? Goldilocks breaks into the Bears’ house and tries different beds, chairs, and porridge. Two of the three were too… something. Hard or soft. Big or small. Hot or cold. She struggled until she found the bed (or chair or porridge) that was just right.
Location makes many IT decision makers feel like Goldilocks. This data center is too close, and my equipment is at risk. This data center is too far, and it will be tough to maintain my equipment. What is the location that is just right?
When making a location decision, ask yourself the following questions. Your answers will help you select an appropriate location and to determine your distance threshold.
- Will the equipment in the data center be focused on production or disaster recovery?
- Does your equipment require heavy management?
If your equipment is for disaster recovery, choose a data center at least 50 miles from your production site. I talk to many CIOs, network administrators, and IT professionals who struggle with this. It’s tough to imagine your babies (your equipment) so far from you and your attentive care, but I urge you not to be what some call a “server hugger.” If you need disaster recovery, it’s best to have geographic redundancy. By nature, disaster recovery is intended to protect you should your first set of equipment were to meet with unforeseen circumstances. If your data center is too close, your equipment will be at risk, and you’ll have defeated the purpose of having a disaster recovery site.
If your equipment is for production, choose a data center that is accessible for regular maintenance and meets your quality standards. For production servers, location is a less important criteria. It is more important to focus on choosing the highest quality data center that meets your needs.
If your equipment requires heavy management, you may believe that a close location is just right. But with options like remote hands and managed service providers, companies can reap the benefits of geographic redundancy for their high maintenance equipment. Using additional support for server maintenance allows your organization flexibility and the option to focus on other high priority items.
Selecting a data center location is not an easy task. Hopefully, after asking yourself these questions, you’ll have selected the geographic location that is just right for your data center.
Still looking for more guidance on how to choose a data center? Check out the following resources, or feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
- 10 Things to Consider When Choosing a Data Center
- 7 Critical Things to Look for When Touring a Data Center
- Top 10 Tips for Disaster Recovery
- Why Columbus, Indiana is a Great Data Center Location
As with any industry, it is easy to fall into the myopic trap of jargon. In fact, one of my favorite HBR podcasts discusses the burden and challenges that jargon presents (Listen to or read Dan Pallota’s interview with Sarah Green “Business Jargon is Not a Value-Add” here). While we try our best not to over-jargon our customers and friends, it is easy to be ensnared by its occasional usefulness. But sometimes it can valuable to step back, think about what we want to express, and explain it in plain terms. For that purpose, we are going to break down data center jargon down. We want to explain what it is that we do, so all can understand what is actually being communicated.
So without further ado, here is the first installment of our data center dictionary series. Please let us know in the comments section what words you’d like to see explained, and we would be happy to oblige.
What is Disaster Recovery?
Disaster recovery is a plan put in place to make sure your business is adequately prepared to function after any type of disaster. It typically implies what technology plans that will take place, should a disaster occur.
What kinds of disasters should DR include?
There are two different types of disasters that occur: natural disasters and man-made disasters. Natural disasters include tornadoes, wildfires, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. Man-made disasters include infrastructure failure, human error, hazardous material spills like Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.
By the Numbers:
In a study from Gartner, Inc., they found that 90% of companies that experience data loss go out of business within two years. Research by IBM (Varcoe, 1993) showed that 80% of organizations without relevant contingency plans who suffered a computer disaster went bankrupt.
How to Reduce Various Threats:
Take preventative measures to avoid disasters. Start by creating a disaster recovery plan and be sure to enforce those policies. Make frequent backups of your critical data or records. Be sure to store this information in a secure and remote location. The typical rule of thumb is to have your disaster recovery site at least 50 miles away from your business or primary colocation (see our upcoming data center dictionary installment on Colocation) site.
Where Should You Start?
Some good questions to ask yourself when preparing for a disaster include:
- How is your business run?
- What is required to keep your business going?
- What are the most critical aspects of day-to-day business?
- What is a reasonable length of time for your business to be up and running from your disaster recovery site if your primary servers and hardware went down? Minutes? Hours? Days?
Today marks the first official day of spring. As a Midwest data center, we withstood the extreme winter. With chilling temperatures, the coldest March in years, and several snow and ice storms. We decided to take retrospective look at some of the worst winter weather, both here in the Midwest and across the country. Now, take a look at these notable storms and the outages they caused and be sure to not let the weather disrupt your business.
1. Nemo 2013
We can’t discuss winter storms without mentioning this year’s horror, Nemo. The Weather Channel dubbed the storm Nemo, with origins from Jules Verne’s character Captain Nemo or the adorable fish who is missing in the Disney film, Finding Nemo. Less cuddly and charming, Winter Storm Nemo wreaked havoc on the Northeast, passing through New England and leaving three feet of snow. More than 300,000 people were without power and as many as 400,000 people were powerless in Massachusetts. Wind gusts of more than 80 miles per hour were reported. Besides the loss of power and interrupted travel plans, numerous professional sporting events were delayed because the teams were stranded in various cities.
2. Washington D.C. Blizzard of 2011
The east coast also felt the effect of winter storms further south in 2011. Thousands of people were left without power in January 2011 in Washington D.C. due to snow storms. Nearly 200,000 people in Northern Virginia at one point were without power and up to 650,000 people were without power at some point during the blizzard. As a result public and private transit, as well as corporate business operations were disrupted.
3. Chicago Blizzard of 2011
The Midwest and the Windy City are no strangers to inclement weather, but in 2011 Chicago experienced the third largest blizzard in the city’s history. “Chicago closed its public schools for the first time in 12 years and shut down Lake Shore Drive, where hundreds of motorists were stranded for 12 hours after multiple car accidents on the iconic roadway,” according to the Huffington Post. Approximately 123,000 people were without power and utility crews worked ceaselessly to repair downed power lines and damaged equipment.
4. NYC Blizzard of 2010
The storm hit the day after Christmas and was the sixth largest storm in New York City’s history. Between 18 and 24 inches of snow fell, with 29 inches reported in parts of Staten Island. Wind gusts were reported as strong as 60 miles per hour. As a result of the storm public transit came to a standstill and more than 24,000 people lost power.
5. NYC Blizzard of 2006
Seven years prior to Nemo, New York suffered another massive snow storm. This was the largest storm in the city’s history, covering Central Park with 26.9 inches of snow. The storm not only affected New York City, but also impacted regions from Maine to Virginia, not unlike Nemo. The blizzard knocked down trees and power lines and forced all three major airports to close during the heaviest part of the snowfall.
6. Indianapolis Blizzard of 1978
To Hoosier natives, this will forever be the storm that lives in infamy. The Circle City was buried under over 20 inches of continuous snowfall in January of 1978. The precipitation was coupled with intense temperatures. Thermometers read zero degrees, but with wind-chill effects, residents felt the chill of -51 degrees. The wind coupled with snowfall lead to several drifts over ten feet tall.
Why do we examine the weather? Does it even matter? The short answer is yes! Disaster recovery and preparedness demand planning for these types of scenarios. When reviewing your company’s disaster recovery plan, consider the effects your company, equipment, and data will feel from environmental factors, such as winter storms and extreme cold. Having a comprehensive disaster recovery plan with redundant backup methods will protect your data should your business be affected by a natural disaster. Review more complete disaster recovery planning and strategies here.
When creating any kind of business plan, a business should begin with an assessment of current status. In this case, an organization should conduct a basic risk assessment. While different industries have different risks, business continuity plans should reflect the respective risks for a given organization and industry. This often requires brainstorming sessions around worst case scenarios.
Next, perform a business impact analysis for the scenarios your team created. By itemizing the potential risks, your organization will then be able to prioritize the scenarios that will impact their business the greatest. Plot these scenarios on a matrix, with likelihood and impact on each axis.
After performing a business impact analysis, we recommend formally documenting your contingency plans for these situations. Business continuity plans should cover the entirety of an organization and may include:
- Incident response plan
- Incident management plan
- Business recovery plan
- Emergency and evacuation plan
- Contingency plan.
Those plans should be accompanied by their respective procedures and policies.
After documenting a business continuity plan, an organization should put these items into action. Adequate preparation applies beyond the paper documentation. For example, if the engineers on the Mars Rover had only documented the backup plans, they might not be able to have protected their asset, should one of the circumstances occur.
At this point in the process, your organization has created its business continuity plan and taken the appropriate preparations. The plans should be measured and reviewed on a regular basis. There is no magic number in terms of the frequency, but the policies, procedures, and plans should be monitored to identify the successful aspects and the potential weakness within these processes.
Finally, once the weaknesses have been identified, adjust accordingly. Prioritize the actions, as done when performing the business impact analysis, and then tweak the plans.
Unfortunately preparing for disasters must be an ongoing process. This cycle is crucial in protecting an organization, its information, and its operations. In the Midwest, where tornadoes, floods, and lightning are commonplace, it is especially vital for a business not only have a business continuity plan but also frequently measure and monitor that plan. Check out our whitepaper on disaster recovery planning with tips to help you along the way.
Data Cave is a fully redundant, robust data center located in Indiana. We welcome you to share in its advantages, especially when it comes to protecting your valuable data assets. Contact us or call 866-514-2283 to schedule a tour and see for yourself.
The end is near. There are only 3 days until the world ends. Or so says the Mayan Calendar, zombie theorists, and other highly “credible” sources. We have considered several end of the world theories and realized that Data Cave is where we want to be in the case of a zombie apocalypse. We are fully equipped with:
- High walls with minimal windows
- Building-in-building design
- Video surveillance
- Powerful generators
- Remote location
All of which, we believe a zombie could not defeat. We realize that not everyone has access to Data Cave, in the case of a zombie apocalypse. In order to keep you prepared, we gathered a list of the top 6 apps that will keep you safe, should zombies overtake the world.
This app gives you a map of critical resources such as gas stations and grocery stores to keep you nourished during the struggle. The app also highlights critical danger areas such as police stations and hospitals that may be overrun with zombies.
It’s better to be safe than sorry. While many TV shows have depicted the zombie apocalypse, we cannot be certain what it may bring. In the case that the zombies align with ghosts, this app will give allow you to see what the naked eye cannot. (Note: It’s ghost detection software competency can neither be confirmed nor denied. Use at your own risk.)
The Army trains its troops to be prepared and survive many conditions. This highly pragmatic app offers you their field tested survival tips ranging from the psychology of survival to water procurement. You may need to become “army strong” and this app gives you the skills you need to achieve this.
4. Zombie Booth
In the ever digital age, it is likely that the zombies will have access to smart phones and computers, if smart enough to use them. Should you find yourself in mobile or electronic communication with a zombie, use the zombie booth app to create an appropriate avatar to dupe the living dead. By transforming your appearance to resemble that of a zombie, you may buy yourself time to decide your next move.
As we said in our last zombie-related blog, it is much easier to defeat a zombie when you know they are coming. Should you lack video surveillance, this app will provide you with basic motion detection software and can even serve as video surveillance system, both of which will help you elude zombies in your immediate area.
Are you adequately prepared to survive a zombie apocalypse? This app will test your knowledge to see just how adequate your zombie survival skills are. It asks you questions and will help you prepare appropriately for the impending zombie takeover.
So, you’ve chosen to outsource your data center. Now what?
It’s time to get priorities in order and decide what is most important when choosing a data center. Here are a few things you might consider.
Having redundancy in place when it comes to power is critical – redundant utility lines, generators, UPS flywheels or batteries to ensure that when the power goes out (and it will), your equipment won’t go down. Power outages have horrifying effects on servers, and you won’t have the time to rebuild your IT infrastructure, not to mention the risk of downtime to your end clients.
This is a crucial component of your data center selection, but most data centers will have access to a large variety of carriers. The pertinent issues deal with the cost of reaching your chosen ISP. Redundancy in this area is also important. Fiber gets cut and carriers go down. What can go wrong, will go wrong. So having redundancy in place to mitigate that risk is very important. Utilizing “blended” bandwidth ensures that when one carrier goes down, you’ll have automatic failover to another.
We’ve given you a sample of things to consider when choosing a data center. To read further on what matters most when making your selection, download our whitepaper on 10 Things to Consider When Choosing a Data Center.
With December 21, 2012 fast approaching, the end-of-days worriers are going to get progressively more fidgety. Well they, and you, needn’t fear if your data is at Data Cave. We’ve got this zombie apocalypse under control. Your data and disaster recovery site (I think zombies count as a disaster) will be safe and sound. Here are 6 reasons why you want to be at Data Cave during a zombie apocalypse.
1. Zombies suck at scaling walls.
Fact: The reanimated have very few skills. The skills they do have involve moving forward (slowly in most cases) and finding food. They don’t have problem solving skills and they aren’t very resourceful. Data Cave has very few windows. This is designed from a security standpoint. The only entry is through steel security doors with card reader access and we rarely hand out cards to the undead. There is no way to get through a window on the ground level. And only in one case have I seen a zombie carrying a ladder…
2. Building in building design.
Fact: Concrete, one inch rebar reinforced walls are fairly strong. In fact, our walls are built to withstand an EF5 tornado. Walkers are a bit less powerful than 200 mile per hour winds. But they wouldn’t have to get through just one wall. No, they would have to demolish two, and in some cases three, to get to your data (and our brains). We’re confident that this won’t happen.