Learning the Lesson About Disaster Preparedness

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2011-03-15 Print this article Print


In addition, the government mandated survivability into the network infrastructure, just as it did for everything from building codes to transportation. While the Japanese didn't think of everything (who could possibly imagine a 9.0 earthquake with tsunamis of this magnitude?), they thought of enough. 

While the human tragedy continues, an intact Internet in Japan means that aid can flow more easily, help can come more quickly and the nation can function more normally where it's possible to do so. Of course, in areas directly affected by the disaster, people probably aren't getting on the Internet much. 

It takes power to run computers, and even if the ISPs are mostly operating, there will be areas where there isn't service. In addition, there are areas where the undersea cables are out because the landing stations aren't staffed, or because the cables are damaged.  After all, the entire island shifted more than eight feet during the quake, and these cables don't necessarily have a lot of stretch left in them. 

What this means to you is a lot. A natural disaster in the area where you are probably won't take out the Internet. What should matter to you is whether you can get to the Internet. Just as is the case in Japan, you need more than the existence of the network; you need to be able to run the infrastructure that gets you to the Internet.  

This is when you see just how ready your data center is for a disaster, whether it's an earthquake, a monster snowfall or a hurricane. Do you have a source of power that's really reliable? By that I mean power that's not going out in two days because you ran out of diesel fuel or that depends on an ISP without an emergency plan. You need to confirm that your entire pathway to the Internet will stay functional in spite of the worst of disasters. Then you need to do it again because you need more than one way to get to the Internet. And then you have to test it regularly, just to make sure it will actually work.  

While there's not a lot you can do if your data center is physically destroyed, except bring your backup data center online, you can make sure that if your data center stays up, you can still reach the outside world. That's what they did in Japan, and obviously it worked. 

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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