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2014 a Busy Year for Availability Digest Presentations
As Managing Editor of the Availability Digest, 2014 is shaping up to be a busy year for giving presentations on high availability and continuous availability topics. On April 24th, I talked about major data-center failures in “Help! My Data Center is Down!” at NENUG, the Northeast NonStop Users Group. Early July saw presentations sponsored by HP to the Korean NonStop Users Group on data-center failures and to Taiwan NonStop users on data-center failures and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. These talks followed my 2013 HP-sponsored tour to InNUG, the India NonStop Users Group.
I will be presenting at the upcoming MATUG NonStop Users’ Group meeting in Philadelphia on September 25th, at the Continuity Insights Business Continuity Conference in New York on October 8th, and at the NonStop Technical Boot Camp in San Jose in early November. I plan to present at Connect’s “Security on the High Seas” conference in February, 2015.
Please come to hear me if you will be at any one of these conferences. You can also pick up all of this information plus a lot more from one of our seminars on High Availability Theory and Practice.
Dr. Bill Highleyman, Managing Editor
eBay.com is an online auction and shopping website through which a wide variety of goods and services are sold by its 145 million users. In early May, 2014, eBay discovered that its user database had been hacked sometime between late February and early March. In the two intervening months, the hackers potentially stole the personal information of all of eBay’s users.
eBay’s response to the data breach was, in a word, disappointing. It took no overt action to notify its users of the breach for two weeks. During this time, there was no notice on its home page. No cautionary emails were sent to its users, and no notice was given to users as they logged on to their accounts. eBay’s first notice was posted on its little-seen corporate website, ebayinc.com.
It is bad enough to lose the personal information of 145 million users. It is far worse to delay by weeks the conveyance of that loss to those affected. The Availability Digest has written numerous articles about the failure of companies to communicate with their customers. eBay, unfortunately, was blatantly guilty of this oversight.
In mid-April, 2014, a fire in Samsung’s backup data center took down Samsung’s smart-phone, tablet, and Smart TV services. Any Samsung service that depended upon connectivity with its servers was unavailable to users. Samsung payment cards could not be accepted by retailers, and cards were rejected by ATMs. It took more than a day for Samsung to completely restore services.
The fire was in Samsung’s backup data center, so why were services interrupted? Would not the primary data center continue in operation unaffected?
According to industry reports, Samsung had located its networking infrastructure in its backup data center. This infrastructure was not replicated between Samsung’s primary data center and its backup data center. Users entered the Samsung online systems via the networking systems in the backup data center and were routed to the production servers in its primary data center.
Thus, when the fire damaged the networking infrastructure in the backup data center, connectivity between the Internet and the production center was lost. No user could access the production servers, and the backup servers were down. All online Samsung services were lost. These services could not be restored until the network services were brought back online.
Shades of Windows XP! Microsoft ended support for its Windows XP operating system on April 18, 2014. Support for its popular Windows Server 2003 operating system will end in a year on July 14, 2015. Released almost ten years ago, Windows Server 2003 is running on 11.7 million servers worldwide. Many of these servers are running mission-critical applications for an enterprise.
Phasing out Windows Server 2003 will be much more complicated than it is for XP. The mission-critical applications being run by these servers cannot be taken down during the migration, unlike a Windows XP PC. Many large customers are not even aware of how many Windows Server 2003 applications they are running.
Now is the time to start planning and implementing the conversion from Windows Server 2003. Third-party vendors should be contacted to ensure that they can port their applications off of Windows Server 2003.
The rewriting of old applications must be started now. This gives an organization the opportunity to improve application security and stability and to add much-needed new features.
Everbridge focuses on providing emergency/mass notification services (EMNS) via a simplified, semiautomated mass-notification platform. Key to the successful coordination of resources to manage a crisis are effective communications. This is the role of the Everbridge EMNS communications platform.
No matter where employees, contractors, or residents are located, the responsible authorities must be able to reach out and contact them, to offer help and direction, and to hear from them about their situations and needs. What is required is a reliable central communication hub with one interface for every emergency or mass notification need, coupled with a well-thought-out and tested communication plan for any crisis.
The Everbridge product suite provides such a communication platform. It allows an organization to easily communicate with selected recipients. Each recipient can respond to verify message receipt, and recipients also can initiate unsolicited messages.
Mass communications can be disseminated to predefined lists or to targeted geographic areas. Communications are made more efficient by message templates that only require the inclusion of variable information.
Everbridge has earned the top spot in Gartner’s March, 2014, Magic Quadrant of U.S. EMNS systems.
A challenge every issue for the Availability Digest is to determine which of the many availability topics out there win coveted status as Digest articles. We always regret not focusing our attention on the topics we bypass.
Now with our Twitter presence, we don’t have to feel guilty. This article highlights some of the @availabilitydig tweets that made headlines in recent days.
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© 2014 Sombers Associates, Inc., and W. H. Highleyman