http://www.sqlservercentral.com/blogs/martin_catherall/2011/03/15/disaster-recovery-exposure-part-one/

Printed 2014/12/28 04:44PM

Disaster Recovery Exposure. - Part One

By Martin Catherall, 2011/03/15

 G'day,

I've just read Paul Randal's sqlmag article about the need to test your disaster recovery strategy. In that article Paul mentions a short presentation that I did on the Thursday night at the Feb 2011 Internals event in Dallas.

In that presentation I spoke about my own IT related experiences, during the 4th September 2010 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. Specifically relating to

If you'd like to read about my personal experiences, then you can do so here.

I'll expand on those IT related themes a little here. Although I was not in Christchurch for the 22 February 2011 6.3 magnitude aftershock (yes, that's right, the geo-tech guys consider the event to be a aftershock from the big one in September of the previous year),  I do have the experience of my friends, family and work colleagues to draw on and I was in Christchurch for the September one and all the countless aftershocks that followed.

Firstly a little background, the Sept 2010 quake - although the strongest - stuck at 4:35 in the morning on a Saturday and fortunately no lives were lost. However, the later February quake was centered closer to the city, was a lot shallower and stuck at lunchtime on a Tuesday, sadly ending the lives of many people (160+ as of the date of this post.) The later quake was also massively more destructive and as well as also affecting structures and civil infrastructure, it also had a big impact on IT services and infrastructure - which is what the remainder of this post is about.

During the February quake, people evacuated their buildings immediately - leaving personal items such as cell phones, car keys, wallets and handbags on their desks. When the quake was over - if the building was still standing - they were not allowed back into their buildings.

This also meant that any IT equipment in those buildings could not be physically accessed either - in actual fact all electric had gone off and any emergency generators had kicked in. However power was to remain off for weeks in some cases, far too long for generators to maintain power.

In addition to that, a lot of server rooms were in disarray. SAN's had been smashed, server racks fallen over and air-conditioning units torn from their mountings.

Now, for some company's, the IT equipment that they had on site represented their entire business.

For others, Christchurch was their disaster recovery center (everybody had been expecting a big earthquake in Wellington for years).

And for yet others, certain IT services were run directly out of Christchurch.

But in the weeks after the February Earthquake, nobody was allowed back into the center of the city. So in effect an entire business center was lost. Obviously this affected small businesses hard - some relocated to other parts of the country, some simply worked from home and others simply went out of business - they had lost their IT systems, building(s), and in some cases staff.

This alone proves the need for at least one disaster recovery center.

But what about businesses that did have a disaster recovery center in Christchurch. That center was now gone. Any tape backups in that center were also gone (or at least unable to be accessed). This in effect leaves a business vulnerable as their backup location has effectively disappeared. You'll need to plan for this eventuality.

But then there are other businesses who not only used Christchurch as a DR center, but also ran IT services out of that center. Not only had they lost their DR center, but they had also lost their IT infrastructure that held those services. While they may have had backups, they now needed some extra hardware to put them on in a new center.

Perhaps, this proves the need for two disaster recovery centers - geographically separated, preferably on different tectonic plates.

However many DR centers you have, if you lose one then you're increased your vulnerability and risk to some degree. I guess the more mission critical your business is then the more disaster recovery scenarios that you and your team should have worked through.

And there's a few words that are probably over used in our business

Just have a think about how you'd respond to the following

The best way to get answers to these questions is to brainstorm with your team. Seek advice from people who have been through these events - they'll lightly be totally willing to share their experiences. We all have fire drills (of course we do!), so why not drills for natural disasters. It may save your business,

But more importantly, it may save lives.

This blog post is now getting a little long - so I'll continue discussing some of the issues that could affect you in Part II.

Take it easy.

Martin.

 


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