April 16, 2013 by Richard R. Rogoski
Beaufort Memorial’s disaster recovery plan emphasizes redundancy
It never hurts to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. For smaller hospitals that rely on a single data center, backing up data so they can be recovered may not be enough if the data center is down for any length of time. Leaders at Beaufort Memorial Hospital in Beaufort, S.C., took that into account when developing a disaster recovery plan, says Ed Ricks, CIO.
A 197-bed community hospital that serves over 100,000 people, Beaufort Memorial is located near the Atlantic coast, making it vulnerable to hurricanes and floods. And while Ricks says his disaster recovery plan has “morphed over the years,” he emphasizes that in addition to its in-house data center, the hospital also rents space in a building further inland that serves as a “warm” site.
In the past, as real-time data was replicated, the data were sent to the warm site where it was stored. But because that warm site was not an active site, it lacked the ability to run any of the hospital’s information systems.
However, since the hospital had already approved another medical arts building on the campus, Ricks says the decision was made to put a second data center in the new building. “That’s now our secondary data center but it will soon become our primary center,” he explains. “We want it to be an active-active data center.”
Ricks says the hospital partnered with Mt. Pleasant, S.C.-based eGroup to design a plan that would incorporate two data centers instead of one. In addition, Beaufort Memorial had already set up its backup storage solutions with the Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC Corp., so EMC was brought back to work on the expansion project.
Now, says Ricks, the two data centers are linked with a fiber optic cable owned by the hospital with a current capacity of 10 gigabytes per second. The warm site also is connected, but by a leased line that is part of the backbone for the state’s health information exchange (HIE), he says.
Ultimately, Ricks says, he would like to turn the warm site hot in case both on-site data centers ever go down. “The long view is to turn the warm site into another active data center — probably in a few years.”
In backing up data to disk, one copy is now stored in the secondary data center while a second copy is stored at the warm site, he says.
Working with eGroup was fortuitous for Beaufort Memorial, since that applications and services provider has strategic partnerships with EMC, Cisco Systems, and the Palo Alto, Calif.-based VMware.
Beaufort Memorial continues to add new technologies to its arsenal: not only does it no longer use paper charts, but it also added a virtualization platform using VMware’s vSphere, Ricks says. “We run 225 servers and about 95 percent are virtual.”
Developing a disaster recovery strategy and building in redundancy with a second data center was not without its challenges. “You can do anything you want to do with enough time and money. But you’re always looking at competing dollars,” he says, noting that IT expenditures are often at odds with those on the clinical side.
As for offering advice to other CIOs who are planning to implement a disaster recovery strategy, Ricks urges, “Have a long-term plan but make sure you have an end point in mind. Communicate what you want to do, get everything in place, then test it.”
Plus, he notes, “It’s not a luxury; it’s a necessity.”
In IT, we always talk about how important backups are, but how often do we really review and test our backup plans appropriately? In 2013, we should resolve to do a better job in protecting the data that we depend on daily. Here are some important questions to keep in mind when reviewing your policies…
- What needs to be backed up?
- How often does it need to be backed up?
- How much space is available to store backups?
- What is your retention policy?
- How many backups do you keep on hand for emergency situations?
- Do backups need to be stored offsite? If so, should they be stored in a different geographical location (East Coast vs West Coast)?
- How quickly can you recover and restore those backups?
- Have you tested your backup plan?
- Have you tested the restore process of those backups?
These are the basic questions you should be asking when coming up with a Disaster Recovery plan. The answers will guide you to creating the disaster recovery plan that you need for your business. It will also give you the peace of mind that your data is protected and will never be ‘lost’.
If you need assistance in creating, reviewing, implementing, or testing your Disaster Recovery plan then send us an email at email@example.com and we will be happy to help!
Give us a call at 1.877.eGROUP.1 or e-mail sales@eGroup-us.com to learn more about eGroup Support Agreements, and how we can help you with preparation assistance prior to the storm. Our Support Agreement customers have priority on our time before, during, and after a storm.
The e-mail below was sent out to our support agreement customers earlier this morning:
“As a Valued Support Agreement Customer, we wanted to touch base with you to let you know that we’re keeping a close eye on Irene.
If things intensify and projections put the storm on a collision course with our area, and specifically if the National Weather Service (NWS) begins to issue Hurricane “watch” or “warning” alerts for our area, eGroup will begin to invoke the necessary disaster preparedness plans we’ve developed internally. We expect that you will be doing the same. Please note that the NWS defines a “watch” condition as “storm possible within 36 hours”, and a “warning” condition as “storm expected within 24 hours.”
This email is especially important if you include eGroup Support Services as part of your Disaster Preparedness or Recovery plan. Read more >>
You would think that SharePoint would have a simple Database Server type setting that you could change at anytime, but it doesn’t work like that. As unfortunate as this is, there is a fairly simple way of moving all of your databases to a different server or instance using a SQL Client Alias.
The SQL Client Alias basically just tells the SQL Connection String to go somewhere else. For instance, if I have a connection string pointing to “SQLServer01SP” and I setup a SQL Client Alias to point to “SQLServer02SP”, then all SQL traffic from that server will be re-directed if it specifies “SQLServer01SP” in the connection string.
This allows us to keep SharePoint thinking that it’s going to one SQL Server, when in fact it is going to another SQL Server entirely. However, there is a catch for SharePoint 2007. You will need to backup and restore any SSPs (2007 only) that you have configured.
Here are the steps I took…
1. Backup all DBs on the old SQL server
2. Backup all SSPs in Central Admin
3. Delete all SSPs in Central Admin
4. Stop all SharePoint services in the SharePoint Farm and stop IIS.
5. Restore all DBs to the new SQL server
6. Setup a SQL Client Alias on all WFEs in the SharePoint farm to point the ServerInstance of the old SQL Server to the new SQL server.
7. Start IIS, then start all SharePoint services in the SharePoint Farm.
8. Restore the SSPs using the New Configuration option
Move all databases (SharePoint Server 2010)
Move all databases (Office SharePoint Server 2007)
How to setup and use a SQL Server alias
Delete an SSP using STSADM
stsadm -o deletessp -title -deletedatabases -force
Delete the SSP content DB
stsadm -o -deletecontentdb -url -databasename
Where URL is the URL of the Web application from which the content database will be detached and database name is the name of the content database to be detached.
2010 is expected to be a very active hurricane season, and eGroup customers who have a Support Agreement with us will be among the best prepared, and those who will have priority on our time during and after a storm.
If projections put a storm on a collision course with our area this season (officially June 1st-November 30th), and specifically if the National Weather Service (NWS) begins to issue Hurricane “watch” or “warning” alerts for our area, eGroup will begin to invoke the necessary disaster preparedness plans we’ve developed internally. We expect that you will be doing the same.
eGroup Support Agreement customers will have priority on our available time before, during, and after a storm.
Read more >>