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DR to the Office

December 7th, 2012
Dilbert DR Plan

Courtesy of Scott Adams

If you don’t mind entertaining me, go into your data centre please. In fact first of all, when you refer to your data centre, in your head does it have inverted comma’s around it in a sarcastic fashion? Is it a “data centre” (roll eyes)? Now head into your “data centre”, how does the cabling look? Is every server dual connected to power supplies? Do you have a room UPS and advanced environmental monitoring to identify hot spots? You do? Great, stop reading this article as it’s not for you…

If you have a “data centre” and you’d be relatively embarrassed if someone started asking you about redundant power & cooling or when the last time your generator was tested (you have a generator right?) or your last security audit and pen-test, then please read on. I say or, but really that’s and/or but I don’t want this to sound like a census.

At VMworld last year we heard how fantastic SRM 5 is and that it enables service providers to start offering DRaaS (don’t get me started on **aaS) and how businesses will rejoice at this offering. There’s one hole in this concept for me I’m afraid however. You’ll be paying a service provider to host your DR that you use perhaps twice a year. This will be hosted in a top data centre, with fully redundant power, environmentals, fully diverse network, fully monitored, secure, audited, and so on. That’s what hosting providers do, they light up data centres and they choose the best as it’s their business to be the best. And your primary hosting will be out of your “data centre”. I think by now you know where I’m going with this, so I won’t labour the point too much. “Data centre” (roll eyes).

As a concept, DRaaS to a service provider is all backward in my mind. If you have a tier 3 data centre already, you perhaps already have multiple locations, so DRaaS is less appealing or cost effective. If you run a “data centre” chances are you are on a budget and the possibility of a second site seems fairly far-fetched, or perhaps you have a second site but it requires italics and underlining when you say “data centre” to emphasise the sarcasm. Wouldn’t it make more sense to host your primary compute services from a top data centre and for you to host your DR out of your “data centre”? For the 0.1% of the time that you run from DR, is it that important that it’s a tier 3 facility?

First of all this would give you the option to play around with your applications in isolation. You could clone production systems locally without any impact on production as it’s totally isolated. This allows you to do isolated upgrade testing, isolated DR testing, and isolated development. You can also look to improve your data centre facilities, do much-needed maintenance as you won’t need to book in business downtime (although you still need to make the business aware of a loss of resilience during these upgrades).

I just want to point out that I have worked in a lot of “data centres”, I’ve worked in a lot of “data centres” too, so please understand that I am empathizing with your challenges here, not criticizing the fantastic job you’ve done to stand up these facilities and keep them online as long as you have. You sir/madam are a hero of IT, and I applaud you. However I want to save you this burden in the future and allow you to concentrate on the good stuff. I want you to have a bigger impact on the business, not wasting your time running around keeping the lights on. No one remembers the weekends you’ve worked to fix a fix a broken air-con, or the birthday’s you’ve missed (or escaped) from because you were dialed in rebuilding the Exchange server after another mail store corruption. However everyone remembers that they didn’t have email all Friday afternoon and on Monday morning they complained as they had a load of email to go through.

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