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.
Moving IT equipment, like server racks, can be stressful and complicated, but when it’s done right, it is painless and productive. Don’t let the fear of a move hold you back from choosing a data center with higher uptime and better customer service than you are currently getting. The process of a move shouldn’t make you stay where you are if you are frustrated or unhappy. We at Data Cave have come up with a list of suggestions to help get over those hurdles and prepare you for your next move.
1. Notify everyone involved of your pending move. This includes your vendors, company staff so they won’t be surprised when the network is down for a bit, and the data center you are moving from and to so they can be ready (with fresh coffee). Do your research and confer with your data center staff, who have probably helped facilitate various moves and can advise you on your particular situation.
2. Be sure that all new equipment is at the final destination and in a designated staging area. If you are moving your equipment into a new rack, make sure it’s ready for your arrival. Moving to a new rack will also cut down on moving time and is a good opportunity to get a new one if you really despise what you’re currently using.
3. Check your insurance policy – if you move the equipment yourself – to ensure you are covered if something catastrophic happens, like a car accident.
4. Do a test power down, wait 15 minutes or so and power everything back up. This way you can check to make sure everything is still working and have time to order a replacement if necessary. This is especially important if you still have items under warranty.
5. Be prepared for disaster. Be sure you are ready for a piece of equipment not to work. We always hope for the best but that isn’t enough. Backup your critical data before the move and have spare equipment on hand. If all else fails, be sure you’ve notified your equipment vendor who can be ready to ship you a new piece of hardware ASAP.
6. Don’t move a full rack of equipment unless it’s designed to be moved that way. Even if it is, there’s a chance the rack isn’t balanced correctly or a wheel could break during the move. It would be useful at this point to create a logical map of how everything is connected, as well as a physical map. First, label everything, take pictures (and print them if necessary) and just document everything. Then, remove all the equipment, clean it and package it carefully. When the equipment arrives at the new destination, you have a prime opportunity to organize everything a little better than the last time. Cable management FTW (For The Win – for those less geeky than us).
7. Ask your data center for suggestions on a moving company if you aren’t comfortable doing it yourself. There are a few options for bonded IT moving companies that will disassemble and reassemble your equipment for you. They will even power it up and make sure everything works.
We cannot stress enough, keep everything organized. You will, of course, be in a hurry to get your equipment back up but you only get one chance to do it right. After it’s up and running, you aren’t going to power everything off to redo it. Also, don’t let a move keep you from choosing a new data center, you shouldn’t stick with a solution that isn’t satisfying your needs.
Let us know if you have any other suggestions. We’d be happy to include it in a blog or upcoming newsletter. Leave a comment, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our contact form to give us your suggestion.
Halloween 2011, New England. Mother Nature provided more tricks than treats when she dumped a massive amount of snow and ice. 1.8 billion homes and businesses were without power for over a week. A Symantec Disaster Preparedness Survey estimated that downtime costs $12,500 a day for small to medium sized businesses. Potentially, businesses in New England could have lost at least $87,000, if they weren’t prepared.
Data is quickly becoming one of the most valuable assets a company has, but many companies don’t take the time, effort and money to be prepared and to protect their data. If you are a business owner or rely on data for smooth operation of your business, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you have an emergency or disaster preparedness plan? 66% of businesses don’t. (Ad Council)
- Do you think it’s important to recover data after a disaster? 71% think it is important.
- Do you have any remote data backup? Even though 71% think it’s important, only 31% take action to back up their data.
Too many businesses are falling victim to myopic vision and the ever popular “That could never happen to me.” Company executives are focused on revenue, but forget about their backup plans. This limited thinking can (and will) cost them a lot of time and money.
Luckily, hindsight is 20/20. Past disasters, like last Halloween, have painted prime examples of other companies.
- Honda (and other Japanese car manufacturers) halted their supply chains and manufacturing processes for months after the tsunami in 2011.
- American Express suffered great data and equipment losses in the September 11th attack of the World Trade Centers.
In fact, in 2011 the U.S. broke its record for the cost of natural disasters at a staggering 1 billion dollars.
The risks are real, and your data and equipment is important. So what can you do to prevent loss and continue operating in the case of a disaster?
- Use off-site backup
- Use disaster recovery
- Have business continuity services available
It is crucial to move your data somewhere else. Diversify your data’s location to minimize your risk. By doing this, you will create your own insurance policy and ensure that your valuable data is protected.
At Data Cave, we’ve made it our business to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. We strategically chose an Indiana location with a low risk of natural disasters. Plus, we purpose built our data center to protect against the most common Midwest disasters – storms.We don’t only offer your data a safe home but we also have the option to provide you with an office, should yours become inoperable.
Nowadays, your information, data, and technology are incredibly valuable. Using Data Cave to protect these is your best insurance policy.
I recently read a short post by another data center that discussed the need to think about eminent domain and how it may impact your data center. The idea was that if the data center facility is located near railroad tracks, highways, or other certain utilities there may be a risk of seizure of property by the authoritative body in order to expand those services.
Yes, this probably does happen, but I would image fairly infrequently. Plus, the governing body would have to pay a reasonable sum for the property, and that isn’t going to be a small amount of money for a data center facility. I think in general, data centers are safe.
However, it does bring up another good topic: ownership of the building. You see, a nasty little secret of almost every colocation data center out there is that they don’t own the building they occupy. Our informal and unscientific calculations say at least 80% of colocation data center operators do not own their own facilities.
What this means to you, as an end customer, is that you’re at the mercy and whim of a landlord on top of your provider. While many of the facilities are on triple net leases, it’s not uncommon for the landlord to drastically raise rent when the lease comes up – and that cost gets directly passed on to the end customer.
As well, the tenant is always at risk if the landlord wishes to change ownership, or repurposes other parts of the building.
I say eminent domain is not an issue in the data center world; non-tenant owned facilities present a much larger threat to an end client.
Data Cave is a privately owned and operated Tier IV data center located in Columbus, Indiana convenient to Indianapolis, Louisville and Cincinnati. Please contact us for more information at 866-514-2283.
Colocation – locating servers and high-tech equipment away from the bricks-and-mortar location of a business – is no longer just for the big boys of the data world. It’s also becoming an emerging consideration for small- to mid-sized business owners.
Many small business owners find themselves burdened and overwhelmed with the task of keeping a server running 24/7 for their business and Internet hosting needs. Colocation facilities at a data center can provide small and mid-sized business owners peace of mind about their IT needs with state-of-the-art security, safety, performance and reliability at a price that is more economical than one might think.
Common colocation services include:
- lockable rack cabinets or cages
- power in a variety of formats
- network connectivity
- proper cooling and ventilation
- physical security, including video surveillance and key card access
- real-time, live monitoring of all systems