Disaster Recovery Blues...

Year 1999 - Episode 3


The boss is going on about Disaster Recovery again, like the company's going to go to the wall if one of the buildings collapses in an earthquake or something. My comment that an earthquake during work hours might actually improve the company's performance did not generate the expected chuckle of assent.

One more for the seismic therapy in other words. And, as part of his enquiries, he wants to inspect all our DR planning and see just how well prepared we are for the eventuality.

I could tell him the truth, which is that we're about as prepared for disaster as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but that would cause a lot of very unnecessary concern.

Not to put too fine a point on it, I told him a load of old bollocks. Certainly enough to satisfy middle-management types in any case: "Oh well, we're completely prepared with off-site media and media inventories - back-up recovery plans, disaster recovery agreements with hardware manufacturers, along with three 'cold-site' venues in our distant offices to run up a recovery system in about 36 hours, give or take half a day or so," I burble.

"Add to that our redundant cabling links, agreements for emergency cable and satellite service from the major carriers, the network side of the recovery would be the simplest part. The slowest bit would be reading the tapes into the various server machines. Client and desktop machines would be added on an as-needed basis, depending on the employees concerned and their immediate importance to the company plan."

"Excellent!" the boss cries, eyes shining with delight. "Well, I suppose all that's left is for a quick tour of the facilities!"

So now I'm up a thinwire without a terminator. The boss is bound to find out sooner or later that it's all bollocks and demand to know why.

The PFY notices my air of resignation (to having to listen to the boss rabbit on about 'professional integrity' and not job evacuation) and asks what the problem is. I fill him in on all the sordid details.

"We could just take him to one of the cold site centres and tell him that they all look like that, then get the off-site media bloke to say that they don't permit site visits," he suggests.

"The media guy might work, but the cold site's a goner."

"Too cold to be fired up?" the PFY asks.

"No, too hired out to other tenants."

"What?!"

"Well, they're normally right in the heart of the business districts. So I usually rent the space to some other company and pour the dosh to a more deserving project - in this case boosting the bandwidth of the outgoing network connections."

"Uncharacteristically altruistic of you," the PFY murmurs.

"Yeah well...But it's all over now. He's bound to..."

"Not necessarily!" the PFY shouts with satisfaction, with what looks like a glimmering of a plan in his eye.

Two days later, the boss joins me in the back of a limousine for the trip to our site. "Bloody dark in here," the boss mutters. "Can't even see out the windows."

"Yes," I ad lib. "This is a loaner from the Media Storage place - they take no precautions as they have important clients."

"Oh," the boss utters smugly, self-importance boosted. "So, where are we going?"

"We're going to the nearest site, which is about two hours away. I thought we'd tour one site a day if that's OK with you."

Two hours later we glide down a ramp into the sub-basement parking area of the first DR centre. I help the boss into a newly refurbished freight elevator (security reasons) and we drop a level to the DR centre.

"Reminds me of somewhere," the boss mumbles, slightly more confused than his normal operating level.

"We got the DR centres to look familiar so that relocation and orientation is easier on the staff."

"Really? That's quite a good idea!"

We enter the DR computer room and have a quick look around. "It's a bit quiet isn't it?" the boss asks.

"Well, cold sites are typically only fired up in an emergency - mainly to save power and maintenance costs."

"Of course."

The rest of the tour goes smoothly and we make our way back to the office.

"Where to tomorrow?" the boss asks.

"I thought we might leave early and get to the Welsh Centre...pick you up at your place at 6am if that's OK."

Once the boss has gone I tap on the driver's window. The PFY's visage appears as the smoked glass descends.

"Wales tomorrow," I murmur. "Move the kit around a bit, put some Welsh maps up with coloured pins at strategic points, and leave a box of leeks in the freight elevator. Oh, and for Pete's sake, get a bit more of the city in, will you? Two hundred times round the block is just asking for trouble!"

Right, now to translate some machine names into imitation Welsh for the boss's edification (i.e Clomputhenay, etc.).

This DR Stuff - it's all work, work, work!