What Would You Do If Your Data Center Burnt Down Today?

What Would You Do If Your Data Center Burnt Down Today?

Recently a family member experienced a very tragic event when their house burnt down. They only had a minute to get out of the house before it was completely engulfed in flames. Luckily everyone escaped without harm, but they lost everything they ever had. Furniture, clothing and other household items are easily replaceable, but personal items are not. Photos, keepsakes, and of course the data on computes hard disks are irreplaceable!

Think about it!

    • Are you prepared for a home disaster such as a fire?
    • So you have a safe? Is it properly sized and rated for a home fire?
    • Do you have all of your insurance papers, copies, home inventory, and other preparedness items in the safe of at an off-site location?

This is by no means a complete list, only a cautionary note as I admit I’m not as prepared at home as I could be. That’s changing as this was a lessons for me, just a little too close to home.

What happens if a Data Center is Destroyed?

This brings us to the subject of your computer. Just accept that it can be destroyed! It can melt into something unrecognizable, and soaked in water and debris for hours. Those of us worried about our data have always performed backups. We use one, or maybe two external hard disks. We think how good our at-home routine is, but there is one flaw.

All those backups are still in the same place that will burn down! I was putting a backup hard disk into my safe, but then realized the safe is not rated for electronics and only paper – which means it will also be destroyed even though it’s in a safe. Sure there are online and cloud backup services, but none are very good. I’ve evaluated many of them, and all have some kind of deficiency or limitation making it difficult to use and impossible to recommend. This leaves the old standby: Backup up to external hard disks, but this time moving them somewhere off-site.

How about your Data Center?

You might have one of them, two, or 30. Each has some kind of passive and/or active fire suppression as well as preventative systems and processes. We all use special wiring, designs, and technology to give us as much protection as possible. However, there is no such thing as 100% guaranteed. In the event of a serious fire, chances are there will be damage of systems.

So I write this Blog as a wakeup call to all of us. Make sure you think though your plan at home. Be ready for the worst case, know who to call and know where your data is, using whatever method you chose. In the data center, do this same planning. Of course make sure you backup, and take that information off-site. If you do replicate data to multiple data centers, make sure it’s the right data. Ensure you clearly communicate to all business partners the SLA to restore service if one of these events happens. Think through it, make sure fire is in your Business Continuity Plan, and make sure you clearly and often communicate it to your company.

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Stuart Kippelman

Stuart Kippelman, Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Covanta Energy

Stuart Kippelman is Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Covanta Energy Corporation, a leader in the waste to energy market. Stuart has over 20 years of broad business and technology experience. Prior to joining Covanta, he serve... More   View all posts
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