The Case for Preparedness
Expecting the Unexpected
Are you prepared for the unexpected? If your answer is yes—are you sure?
In the early minutes of a Saturday morning in April 2011, a water main broke below the streets of Columbia, S.C.
A $30 billion lending provider a few feet away from the break had over 1,200 servers in their basement Data Center. The massive subterranean flood destroyed the entire electrical subsystem beneath the building rendering it useless due to power loss.
There was no physical damage to the computing systems themselves, which were safely above the flood waters. However, the entire electrical distribution for the building was submerged under feet of water, and neither commercial grid power nor backup power supplies helped.
An entire data center lay asleep—in the dark—with no ability to turn it on again.
eGroup, which offers innovative IT services to businesses ranging from small to enterprise, received the call shortly after 12:45 a.m. Saturday requesting help to get their critical line of business systems up and running before Monday morning.
eGroup sprang into action. We mobilized an entire team that delivered a portable data center rack—complete with storage, compute and networking and pre-configured ready to accept workload restoration—to a collocation facility in Alpharetta, Georgia, by Sunday afternoon.
A lot of things went right in that situation: the timing of the calamity, the industry of the business affected, no loss of human life and no collateral damage to critical assets. It was a complete loss of power with 48 hours to get ahead of potential business issues.
Fortifying their disaster preparedness posture was a priority following the event, as was recovery, which was slow, intensive, and expensive. It took years to complete and cost millions of dollars. The building was uninhabitable for months.
If you had asked them a few days before the flood if they were prepared for a critical event, they would have said “yes,” but they were not prepared for the unexpected.
John Lennon famously sang, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” and we believe this story emphasizes that principle from an IT perspective. Preparedness means being operationally ready for the unexpected to ensure business as usual during unusual circumstances.
IT veterans all have stories like the water main break—many without happy endings. I’m reminded of a survival book by Laurence Gonzales called “Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies and Why” where themes of accident investigation are:
- Things that have never happened before happen every day (for example, the NASA Challenger booster explosion due to cold weather creating brittle seals, although the shuttle had endured prior cold weather launches many times before); and
- Accidents are almost always a result of seemingly benign individual events that when taken together create an unexpected and compounded calamity.
If things that never happened before happen every day why do organizations behave as if they don’t?
Most invest in minimum data protection based on point-in-time backups—but rarely test them. Most don’t know how long it will take to restore a system. Larger-scale Disaster Recovery capabilities are rarely tested. And, often, IT teams lack knowledge of specific steps or timelines.
How many businesses will suffer from a lack of preparedness?
eGroup believes Disaster Preparedness is a disciplined exercise in Disaster Recovery. You must “inspect what you expect” to ensure your business is safe. Practicing regularly so that everyone knows what to do comfortably and confidently is critical. Frequent execution with the ability to improve and automate aspects ensures fluidity and muscle memory to take immediate action when the unexpected happens.
The most prepared teams embrace a philosophy of “you fight like you train” or “you play like you practice” and live in a constant state of preparedness by living in a constant state of recovery. These teams operate regularly expecting something to be offline. A local Federal Credit Union client executes this concept flawlessly by routinely failing their systems on purpose to make sure they’re ready when it happens for real.
The fundamental challenge for most organizations is cost. Historically, IT was not a “core” business unit so Disaster Preparedness, or “IT Resilience,” was sidelined in favor of profit-driven initiatives. Times have changed. Access to data is vital and downtime—or the inability to avoid it—can mean death.
Data Availability = Survival!
Last year’s solutions are outdated. Where can you adapt to win?
Storage industry veteran Paul Reiter president at Zerto, said: “One of the big challenges facing companies today is the need to change the way they think about coping with change. Traditional approaches to managing change and disruption were predicated on working with physical systems. But those models don’t work optimally with highly virtualized environments… In 2017, outages are no longer tolerable.”
If “IT Resilience” is the new normal in a world where businesses succeed on the intolerance of outages, IT Complexity can no longer be IT Job Security. From eGroup’s perspective, shaped by delivering speed and certainty with cloud and data center solutions, IT Resilience means delivering:
- Certainty of success;
- Simplicity; and
And, while continuing to build sophisticated, privately hosted recovery infrastructures, eGroup is leveraging the power of the Microsoft Azure cloud as the target for replicated on-premises systems, thus helping companies say goodbye to the concerns of unpatched systems, non-compliant platforms and slow turn-ups with middlemen. eGroup helps companies achieve automated and standardized activation, world-class security and global platform access with directed data locality to stay compliant with sovereignty interests.
eGroup delivers fast and effective “IT Resilience” built with commoditized and standardized services to keep costs low and simplicity high. By layering Zerto resilience software on top, we deliver RPOs in seconds and RTOs in minutes—with up to 30 days of journaled changes, bi-directionally to or from the Microsoft Azure cloud—or your own on-premises private cloud.
Zerto makes replication and orchestration software for virtualized infrastructures enabling private and public cloud resources for disaster recovery and backup. Zerto’s software, when combined with the Microsoft Azure cloud, delivers certainty in uncertain times.
The power and cost advantages of cloud-enabled IT Resilience are extraordinary, and eGroup is convinced that forward-thinking businesses will embrace the cloud as the way to address tomorrow’s data availability needs today.