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The Availability Digest Presents at HP Discover 2011
HP’s annual North American event, HP Discover, will be held in Las Vegas from June 6th to June 10th. We’ll be there. Look for me at one of the many sessions dealing with high availability.
I also will present two of these sessions. One is on the fallacy that maintaining redundant databases via data replication eliminates the need to do point-in-time backups to magnetic tape or to virtual tape. I relate several instances in which companies lost data or had near misses because of data-storage failures. This session will take place on Thursday at 9:30 AM.
The other session is a look at many spectacular data-center failures that have occurred recently and what lessons can be learned. A common thread that runs through many of the failures may be a surprise to you. The session is scheduled on Friday at 11 AM.
In our article this month entitled High-Availability Topics at HP Discover 2011, we summarize the over two dozen breakout sessions and hands-on labs that deal with high availability and disaster recovery. If you see me at one of the sessions, please take the time to say hello.
Dr. Bill Highleyman, Managing Editor
This may be the biggest hacking story in history – at least so far. In mid-April, 2011, hackers gained access to Sony’s online gaming servers and stole sensitive personal information for over 100 million accounts. It is estimated that this breach could cost Sony and credit/debit card issuers up to $2 billion in recovery expenses, not to mention the cost of pending lawsuits.
As soon as Sony discovered the breach, it closed down its online gaming services until it could restructure its security defenses. This happened on Wednesday, April 20th. At the time, Sony indicated that its services might be down for a few days. As of this writing, gaming services have been down for three weeks and counting. Sony has stopped predicting when its online games will resume.
Though Sony is teaming with the FBI (the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation) and private investigators, the perpetrators have yet to be identified. However, evidence points to a hacking group that wanted to get revenge for Sony’s “unfair legal actions” against a well-known hacker who had managed to find and publish the secret keys to Sony’s online games.
Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is arguably today the leading service for deploying custom applications in a cloud environment. Amazon has gone to great lengths to ensure the availability of its cloud services. It has broken its cloud infrastructure into multiple regional, geographically-separated data centers; and within each region it provides independent Availability Zones. A customer can run a critical application in multiple Availability Zones within a region to ensure availability. If desired, an application can also have a redundant instance in other regions.
Yet just after midnight Pacific Daylight Savings Time on April 21, 2011, a maintenance error took down an entire Availability Zone in Amazon’s U.S.-East Region, located in northern Virginia. The other three Availability Zones in the region were also affected, even though the Availability Zones were supposed to be independent.
Even worse, the result of this maintenance error was not to take the cloud down for a few minutes or even a few hours. It was not until late April 24th, four days later, that the U.S.-East Region was fully returned to service.
HP’s major North American conference, Discover 2011, will be held this year in Las Vegas from June 6th through June 10th. In our article entitled HP Discover 2011, published in our March 2011 issue, we summarized the various tracks, keynotes, and social events that will take place at the event as well as the event’s registration fees.
There are over 800 sessions in the Discover 2011 schedule. In this issue, we highlight some of the sessions that deal with availability. Many are generic sessions, and we provide their abstracts. Others are product-oriented, and the abstracts for these sessions follow the generic-session abstracts. Breakout sessions are one hour in length. Hands-on labs are scheduled for 90 minutes each.
Dr. Bill Highleyman, Managing Editor of the Availability Digest, will present two breakout sessions. One is entitled So you think your data center is safe? His other session is Does data replication eliminate backups?
Discover 2011 has over two dozen sessions touching on system availability, ranging from the nitty-gritty of network design to the management of data centers. If availability is of concern to you in the HP environment, plan to attend this important educational event.
When a disaster strikes your data center, that is not the time to begin worrying about how you are going to deal with the press. You have your hands full with dealing with the crisis and with guiding your organization back to a full recovery.
If you have not planned beforehand for media communication during a crisis, a second crisis is looming. A major outage, for instance, will cause a feeding frenzy by the press. Every publication will try to be the first with the most sensational news, and much of this reporting may be erroneous if it is not carefully controlled. Erroneous reporting can cause great confusion among your stakeholders with whom you are communicating your own message, such as your employees, your customers, your suppliers, your management, and your shareholders.
Dr. Robert Chandler, Director of the Nicholson School of Communication at the University of Central Florida, specializes in crisis communication. In this article, we use Dr. Chandler’s observations on crisis communication to discuss relations with the media following a data-center failure.
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