What NASA Can Teach Enterprises About Redundancy
NEWS ANALYSIS: In space, just-in-time delivery doesn't exist, which changes the rules of resiliency and backup options.Disasters and equipment failures can happen at any time, anywhere, and enterprise IT administrators need to properly prepare for them. This past week, NASA fixed an equipment failure aboard the International Space Station (ISS), and while it operates in a very different environment from data centers here on Earth, its operations can serve as a guide to terrestrial best practices. NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins exited the ISS on Dec. 21 for a five-and-a-half-hour spacewalk to remove a faulty ammonia pump. On Dec. 24, the two astronauts took another spacewalk, this time installing a new ammonia pump to restore the ISS to full operations. What's interesting to note here is that the new ammonia pump was already aboard ISS as a spare part. In the hostile environment that is space, redundancy isn't an option, and spare parts aren't easily sourced from a remote location. In the case of the spare ammonia pump, there's also the question of how NASA and its ISS partners could have ferried a new ammonia pump to the station. Much of the ISS, including the ammonia pumps, were originally carried to space by way of the NASA shuttle fleet, which was decommissioned in 2011 with the final flight of the Shuttle Atlantis. From a disaster recovery and redundancy perspective, NASA and its ISS partners had to plan from the beginning to have lots of options for repair and replacement of station components. Simply put, without the on-board ability to deal with certain types of equipment failure, the ISS would not be the success it is today and lives would be at risk.
Bringing the same message down to Earth, data centers and even branch IT and small offices can learn from NASA's example. While humans on Earth likely don't need to keep an extra ammonia pump onsite, it does make sense to have other types of spare equipment on premise.