Monthly Archives: September 2014

DATABLANCA

canstockphoto2944364“I Stick My Rack Out For Nobody.”

by TechRack Systems

It was a quiet night at the data center. The day shift was gone, and the house lights were out. Street lamps shone through the fog and across the desk of Rack Blanca, now slumped over a tangle of old cords, an empty glass by one hand, and a near-empty bottle by the other. At the sound of footsteps, Rack stirs, pours a drinks and knocks it back just as Sam, the night onsite engineer, walks in.

“Is that you, boss?” Sam says. Rack just looks at him, expressionless. The light of a passing truck sweeps the scene, and Rack reaches for the bottle in silence. Sam tries again. “Boss?”

“Yeah?”

“Ain’t you going to bed?”

Rack takes a swig. “Not right now.”

“Ain’t you planning on going to bed in the near future?”

“No!” Rack is clearly in a grim mood. Sam settles in and starts to fiddle with some equipment.

Rack hangs his head. “Of all the data centers in all the towns in all the world, she had to walk into mine.” Sam nods; Rack’s talking about the new manager, Ella. He figured she would show up sometime – after all, everyone comes to Rack’s.

“What’s that you’re doing?” Rack looks up at Sam.

“Oh nothing, just looking over some PUE data,” Sam shrugs, trying to seem casual, but really, this was something Ella asked for. Her job was to ensure the data center basics were all in place, and she was a stickler for power continuity and secure server enclosures. She’d been bugging Sam to ensure their UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) was solid.

“PUE. What’s that?”

Rack must be really drunk, Sam thinks. “C’mon, boss, you know – Power Usage Effectiveness. Don’t you want me to keep us running efficiently, and avoid brownouts, blackouts? Then I gotta measure our power usage. Anyway, that’s what Ella said…” Sam sees Rack wince, and knows he shouldn’t have mentioned Ella.

“Oh yeah? So you’re measuring power usage for her, huh? Well, now measure it for me. C’mon! I can take it. If she can be more efficient, I can!”

Sam shrugs again, and Rack’s thoughts drift back to earlier that afternoon, when Ella had suddenly showed up, in his private office, lowering the blinds. She said she wanted to talk security, and so he pretended to believe her, for old time’s sake.

First she started talking about cameras – how many security cameras did they have and in what locations. Maybe they should hire security guards. Didn’t he want to protect his data?

“Want to?” Rack had said. “Baby, I have to protect my data and lock my server cabinets. But it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of one little data center don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world…”

Some women were never satisfied; luckily she didn’t bother to bring up fingerprint and retinal scanners – she knew Rack’s was too low rent for that – but she really pressed him on the firewalls. “And I’m not talking those little boxes inside the computers,” she’d purred. “I mean, actual walls for preventing fires. Rack, can you give me that?”

Ella had looked around the place with a bit of distain. “What’s happened to this place? Sure, it’s always safer to keep a low profile – no reason to just let in anyone when you’ve got data to keep secure, but…” She ran her finger along a dusty air duct. “Can’t you at least keep the equipment running?”

Rack had only half listened as she talked about the sad state of his old HVAC. “Rack, we’ve got to optimize our environmental factors.” She never used to talk so fancy. “Keeping the cold rooms at 70 degrees, like in the old days…you don’t need to. Let’s bring the heat up to 80, and re-think server density, I bet we can reduce operational costs just by…”

Leave it to her to bring up the past, that very first data center they ever worked in together. Now that place had bad airflow management. Ella’s throat had always been dry, but that just made her sultry voice even better…back when she’d loved him…

Suddenly, a crash startles Rick awake. His bottle was in broken bits on the floor, and Sam was already grabbing a broom to sweep it up, singing a little tune to himself. “The world will always welcome data, as time goes by.”

Rack sits up. Sam was right. No need to dwell on the past. Rack turns back to the QuadAdjust 24” deep wire shelf unit he’d been installing before going off on that bender. It was a sweet piece of TechRack’s equipment, heavy duty chrome finish, perfect welds and able to hold a ton. Who needs women when you got equipment like this, he thought. Heck, it might just be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Oh No… HELP! Do You Have a Solid Disaster Recovery Plan for your #DataCenter?

canstockphoto15431220by TechRack Systems

A disaster recovery plan is one of the most important elements of a well-run data center. Sometimes, however, important areas can go unaddressed—not intentionally, but because of other priorities, or the “set it and forget it” mindset to name a few. In order to take all possible precautions, consider these often-overlooked items for disaster recovery planning.

#1 – Not Thinking of the “Common” Disasters

More often than not, it’s the more typical incidents, like a failed power supply or a software crash, that occur and cause havoc rather than a natural disaster such as an earthquake or a hazardous material spill. These smaller-scale but no less important crises should have their own “mini-plan” to ensure steps are in place to address, if and when they occur. Otherwise you’ll be making up a plan as you go during a disaster situation.

#2 – Your Technologies Have Cobwebs

Well, hopefully you do not have literal cobwebs. It may be good fortune that you’ve never had to dust off the disaster recovery plan from its spot on the back shelf, but there is a downslide to this too: The older the plan, the more likely it will include obsolete technology and outdated tactics. This could result in a major problem should a disaster occur. Review your current disaster recovery plan and conduct a technology audit; determine if alternatives for “old” technologies are required, and if so, what needs to be replaced. The extra effort could save time and money, and most importantly, stave off a panic situation during a disaster and subsequent recovery time.

#3 – The Plan Has Never Been Practiced

You may have an airtight disaster recovery plan on paper, but has it ever been put to the test? Doing a practice run is the best bet against failure. Test the realities of the actual conditions and situation of your data center. Since business processes, IT operations, and personnel do change all the time, your plan must reflect these shifts. Also, your test run will accomplish several things: You will learn information that could change the plan (i.e., data have been moved from one server rack to another, for example), and also provides an opportunity to iterate and tighten up the plan. This testing will help all participants to fully understand the list of recovery priorities for services and data.

#4 – Know Your Service Level Agreements (SLA)

Another area that can fall between the cracks is details of your SLA and/or support contract with your vendor. Since there are different types of response levels depending on the agreement, you must fully read and understand what your service contracts encompass so you can plan for it. For instance, your data center may have what you consider to be an “emergency”, but your contract may specify different criteria that qualifies with your third party vendors and service providers. Conducing this review may also potentially mean you must upgrade or downgrade service levels in your contract.

#5 – What About Software Licensing?

Another commonly missed component to disaster recovery planning is software licensing. For instance, many software vendors allow for site licensing that is not active (“passive” licensing), but depending on how the software is set up and deployed, it could become unusable after the disaster recovery backup is initiated. This can lead to huge recovering back up issues and delays, including limited storage and processing resources. Don’t let this happen and stall the process of getting back to business.

#6 – It’s Not Just the Plan, It’s the People

Sure, you have a communications plan, but what about the people actually doing the work? It’s critical to compile a complete list of responsibilities and tasks, with detailed information on task areas and everyone’s role within the plan. Components would likely include accountability, informing, consulting, and other task development and execution steps. For example, who will be responsible for informing clients and customers of the down-time period? What specific actions will they take? A detailed people plan ensures that escalation and authorization processes are followed in order to keep systems running as smoothly as possible in disaster and recovery modes.

Find out more about disaster recovery resources. For questions about your data center server cabinet needs, visit our website (www.techrack.com) or contact us at sales@techrack.com or 888-266-3577.