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The digest of current topics on Continuous Processing Architectures. More than Business Continuity Planning.

BCP tells you how to recover from the effects of downtime.

CPA tells you how to avoid the effects of downtime.

www.availabilitydigest.com

 

 

In this issue:

 

   Case Studies

     Commerzbank Survives 9/11 with OpenVMS

   Never Again

     More Never Agains III

   Best Practices

    Data Center in a Box

   Availability Topics

     The Ubiquitous Internet

 

Complete articles may be found at http://www.availabilitydigest.com/articles

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Training – To Travel or Not to Travel?

 

As my active/active seminars have progressed, I’ve come to realize that the venue makes a great deal of difference. Many of these seminars are given face-to-face. But as the economy tightens and technology improves, more companies are opting for virtual training. Many excellent virtual training facilities are now available, including GoToMeeting from Citrix, Live Meeting from Microsoft, and WebEx from Cisco.

 

The difference between direct contact and virtual contact is in the level of engagement. Face-to-face, I can see understanding, I can see confusion, I can see a question forming. When speaking to a class over the web, I see nothing. Though attendees can register confusion and other feelings with emoticons, I can’t depend upon that. It is imperative to keep each and every attendee engaged with questions, quizzes, and stories. This takes time and limits the amount of material that I can provide, but it is a good cost/benefit tradeoff.

 

I would like to know how you feel about multiday training sessions. Would you rather enjoy the travel and sit in a class where you can interact easily with the other attendees and the presenter? Or would you prefer to sit quietly at your desk, do some multitasking, and be available to your coworkers? Drop me an email and let me know about your preferences at editor@availabilitydigest.com. Thanks. Maybe I’ll be seeing you at an Availability Digest seminar coming your way.

 

Dr. Bill Highleyman, Managing Editor

 


 

Case Studies 

 

Commerzbank Survives 9/11 with OpenVMS Clusters

 

On September 11, 2001, the World Trade Center was destroyed when two airliners piloted by terrorists crashed into the twin towers. The New York offices of Commerzbank, a major German bank, were only 100 yards away on the 31st to 34th floors of 2 World Financial Center. Though the bank’s data center physically survived the terrorist attack, the intense dust and heat caused most of its systems to crash. To complicate matters, all communication with the outside world was lost, potentially bringing its U.S. business to a halt.

 

However, Commerzbank had the foresight to distribute its processing with an OpenVMS Active/Active Split-Site Cluster. Its processing services continued uninterrupted in its alternate location thirty miles away, allowing the bank to continue to provide seamless service following the terrorist attack.

 

Commerzbank’s continued operation in the face of the 9/11 disaster is a testament to the power of active/active systems. Though in its case only the disk systems were run in an active/active mode, the provision of a synchronized remote database allowed the bank to rapidly switch users from the failed primary data center to the remote data center.

 

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  Never Again 

 

More Never Agains III

 

This is yet another in our semiannual series of brief recaps of some of the many computing-system failures that have occurred over the last six months. During this period, power, network, and cloud-computing faults shared equal responsibility for outages, each accounting for 20% to 25% of the failures.

 

Some failures of note:

 

  • A new man-made disaster – the FBI confiscates an entire data center for days.
  • The loss of cell-phone service for most German subscribers is aggravated by the fact that service technicians could not be reached by cell phone.
  • Lightning strikes the Amazon cloud – literally.

 

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Best Practices

 

Data Center in a Box

 

Gone may be the days of elaborate data centers in campus surroundings. Tomorrow’s data centers may be stacked in boxes in the parking lot. Boxes? Well, cargo shipping containers, to be exact. The kind you see stacked up on huge freighters plying the oceans.

 

Google, the pioneer in so many things IT, started this trend in 2005. After some derision, its data-center packaging practices are now being followed by such industry leaders as HP, Sun, IBM, Dell, and Microsoft.

 

Data-center containerization has a big potential for transforming the look of the data center in the future. It is already being embraced by the giants of the industry, Google and Microsoft, who say that containerization will form the basis of their future data centers.

 

A big advantage of data-center containers is that they can be located anywhere. Who knows? Your next visit to a data center may be in the warehouse district.

 

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Availability Topics

 

The Ubiquitous Internet

 

In recent articles, we have talked about the fragility of the Internet. Internet failures over wide areas have lasted for days. Companies that depend upon the Internet for critical services must really concern themselves with backup strategies. But even in the face of many horror stories, the Internet thrives.

 

The Internet provides important services but on a best-efforts basis. It makes no claim that it will reliably deliver messages. It just does the best that it can. However, given that, the Internet provides a high level of service – not telephone quality but more than sufficient for most of the tasks for which it is used.

 

There is a trend for companies to use the Internet for critical services, especially as related to cloud computing. This should only be done with great caution and with contingency plans in place to account for the loss of Internet service for perhaps days.

 

Pingdom is a web site that provides a service to monitor the availability and responsiveness of other sites. Earlier this year, it published statistics gained from a variety of sources on just how much the Internet is currently used and how much it has become part of the fabric of our life. This article summarizes Pingdom’s observations.

 

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Managing Editor - Dr. Bill Highleyman editor@availabilitydigest.com.

© 2009 Sombers Associates, Inc., and W. H. Highleyman