In the Event of an Emergency….

In late October [2012], Hurricane Sandy devastated portions of the Northeast and was one of the costliest hurricanes recorded, second only to Hurricane Katrina. When it reached Storrs, Connecticut, the University treated the hurricane as a serious event and anticipated the worst.

While the University wasn’t adversely affected by the storm, the tempest acted as a real eye-opener for ITS, as it prompted the need for an effective Business Continuity / Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) plan to ensure adequate levels of communication and data protection for the perceived disaster that was Hurricane Sandy.

In response to the hurricane and to improve disaster response efficacy, ITS is currently in the process of implementing a multi-phased project that will ensure the functioning of the University during times of crises. The project addresses all BC/DR activities such as prevention, protection, response, mitigation, and recovery.

In the event of a minor or catastrophic incident, the proposed project will ensure that all University-sanctioned avenues of communication, such as internet, University email, and the myUConn app will remain functional. The project also will address and support the University’s public safety directives and other protective services that cannot be allowed to fail in the event of a disaster or other unpredictable events. The project also addresses other issues, such as preventing the loss of irreplaceable data that is not backed-up offsite, which would lead to the loss millions of dollars in research and years of work.

Currently, 35 to 50 percent of all University computing, including critical administrative systems, is centralized in the Math Sciences Building Data Center at the Storrs campus, which is in dire need of remediation in order to bring the dated Data Center up to current IT standards (which is currently being addressed through the Data Center Rescue project). In its current state, the Data Center is prone to even minor disasters, and the BC/DR project aims to make suitable back-ups by installing a new, secondary Data Center at a still-to-be-decided location.

Additionally, the project also proposes to establish two active-active critical infrastructure protection sites, which will act as back-ups for critical key systems. One is already established inside the Chemistry building at the Storrs Campus, as it is on its own power grid, and the other is to be installed at the UConn Health Center (UCHC).

The BC/DR plan will be implemented in multiple stages. The first stage consisted of establishing a back-up system at the Chemistry Building. The second stage will consist of establishing a remote site at UCHC, and the third stage will consist of the final establishment of a secondary datacenter.

For any additional questions, please email Victor Font Jr., the ITS BC/DR Coordinator, at victor.font_jr@uconn.edu.

This article, by Tim Williams,  first appeared in the January 9, 2013 issue of Project Weeklies, the newsletter of the ITS Project Management Office.