Disaster recovery is always a popular topic within the IT nerd crowd. Disaster recovery architectures allow IT professionals to advocate for additional servers and large disk arrays — new hardware is always fun. Also, the concept of moving systems between different hardware is still pretty cool.
As someone whose done hundreds of physical-to-virtual and virtual-to-virtual migrations, I still get chills when I boot a system directly from its backup image or, even better, when I restore a previously virtual machine onto physical hardware.
Very cool indeed.
That said, there is a very dark side to disaster recovery — testing the plan. Ideally, all organizations should perform a complete end-to-end test once a year. In practice, a complete end-to-end test is rarely, if ever, performed.
First of all, very few companies possess a string of backup hardware just sitting around waiting for something to fail. Whether we’re talking about employees or computer hardware, business owners don’t like the concept of something “just sitting around.”
There is another reason why organizations might not want to perform disaster recovery testing. To borrow a phrase, the cure may be worse than the disease.
Last Saturday, ING Bank conducted an evaluation of its fire suppression systems at is main data center in Bucharest, Romania. Fire suppression systems release a large amount of inert gas in a short amount of time in order to suffocate a fire. This rapid release of gas creates a very loud noise, similar to the sound of the wind during a storm. However, in this case, the noise volume exceeded 130 decibels, or about the same as the sound of a military jet on takeoff.
Hmmm… something that loud might create a few vibrations, don’t you think?
Indeed, it does. The resulting shake, rattle and roll literally shook the hard drive heads off their tracks. With dozens of hard drives affected by the noise, the data center quickly went bye-bye. All services were impacted. No credit card transactions. No ATM transactions. No Internet banking. No websites. It was just like living in the 1980s.
Fortunately, ING Bank was prepared. The organization used the opportunity to test many more aspects of their DR plan than initially planned. The only major snag involved a timely notification to customers — the customer database was not available. No worries though. After a mere 10-hour delay, all services were restored and operating normally.
If you are James Turner, this world has a whole bunch of cat pictures in the subway.
James Turner is the founder of Glimpse, a new collective for creative people who want to use their skills for good. Instead of focusing on the problem, the group wants to provide “glimpses” into a better world.
A few months ago, Glimpse members asked themselves to “image a world where friends and experiences were more valuable than the stuff you buy.” The result needed to be something big, something that the internet would love. The answer quickly fell out.
Glimpse created the Citizen’s Advertising Takeover Service (C.A.T.S). This Kickstarter campaign aims to replace every single advertisement in a London tube station with pictures of cats. With 683 people pledging over $30,000 (US), the campaign was a success. For two weeks starting on September 12, all 68 ad boards in the Clapham Common tube station feature a cute and adorable felines.
Honestly, I’m not sure this is the world that I would have imagined, but, hey, it’s a start.