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Summer Journal

Volume 27, Issue 3

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Jon Seals

This week I want to continue examining the good news coming out of the 2014 Annual Report on the State of Disaster Recovery Preparedness from the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council .  Based on hundreds of responses from organizations worldwide, the Annual Report offers several insights into the best practices of companies that are better prepared to recover from outages or disasters.

You can download the report for free at http://drbenchmark.org/

Specifically, I want to explore what organizations are doing to set specific DR metrics for RTOs and RPOs so they can measure and test their DR performance—and hopefully enhance their ability to manage recovery faster and more effectively.

Results from the survey indicate that more prepared organizations set specific DR metrics for RTOs and RPOs.  These organizations, for example, define specific Recovery Time Objectives and Recovery Point Objectives for each of their mission critical business services such as Customer Orders, Finance, and Email communications.

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http://drbenchmark.org/set-specific-dr-metrics-and-test-refine-and-test-again/

Computerworld — IT executives at Splunk faced a challenge. They needed to provide training materials for employees who would be using a new security program. The $268 million San Francisco company makes an application that collects machine data on everything from servers to elevators and heating systems.

"A lot of our employees have Ph.D.s and are IT geniuses," says CIO Doug Harr. Rather than lay down the law with these folks about what they can and can't load on their desktop computers, IT gives them administrative powers and a few security guidelines. So when it was time to train users, Harr knew a run-of-the-mill how-to would be a bad idea. "We looked long and hard for training materials that would be acceptable to them," he says.

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http://www.cio.com/article/749471/Do_You_Understand_Your_Company_s_Personality_

Asia Pacific (AP) organizations have historically been slower to outsource critical information security functions, largely due to concerns that letting external parties access internal networks and manage IT security operations exposes them to too much risk. They have also not fully understood the real business benefits of outsourcing partnerships from a security perspective. However, this trend has recently started to reverse. I have just published a report that outlines the key factors contributing to this change:

  • Skill shortages are leading to higher risk exposure. Scarce internal security skills and a dearth of deep technical specialists in the labor pool are ongoing challenges for organizations around the world. This not only raises the cost of staffing and severely restricts efficiency, it may also increase the costs of security breaches by giving cybercriminals more time to carry out attacks undetected; at least one study indicates that the majority of reported breaches are not discovered for months or even years. The early adopters of managed security services in AP tell us that external service providers’ staff have more technical knowledge and skill than their internal employees.

...

http://blogs.forrester.com/manatosh_das/14-03-09-adoption_of_managed_security_services_is_on_the_rise_in_asia_pacific

DENVER – In the past six months, more than $284 million in federal funds has been provided to Coloradans as they recover from last September’s devastating floods.

More than $222 million has come in the form of disaster grants to individuals and families, flood insurance payments and low-interest loans to renters, homeowners and businesses. More than $62 million has been obligated to state and local governments’ response and recovery work.

At the same time, long-term recovery efforts are underway, staffed and funded by federal, state and local governments, and by volunteer agencies dedicated to helping those most in need.

The $284.9 million breaks down this way: (All figures are as of COB March 3, 2014.)

  • $60,418,419 in FEMA grants to more than 16,000 individuals and families for emergency home repairs, repair or replacement of essential personal property, rental assistance, and help with medical, dental, legal and other disaster-related expenses;
  • $98,750,000 in U.S. Small Business Administration low-interest disaster loans to more than 2,440 homeowners, renters and businesses;
  • $63,641,332 in National Flood Insurance Program payments on 2,071 claims, and
  • $62,055,973 in FEMA Public Assistance reimbursements to state and local governments for emergency response efforts, debris cleanup, repairs or rebuilding of roads, bridges and other infrastructure, and restoration of critical services.

“The flooding disrupted the lives of thousands, changed the course of streams, isolated mountain communities, and left major roadways impassable in many places,” said Tom McCool, federal coordinating officer for the disaster. “More than 1,200 men and women from FEMA were mobilized from all over the country to this disaster. We’re proud to be part of the team as Coloradans recover, rebuild and renew their lives.”

Over a five-day period last September, historic rainfall swept through the Front Range, with some areas receiving more than 17 inches of rain. The flooding killed 10 people, forced more than 18,000 from their homes and destroyed 1,882 structures, damaging at least 16,000 others. Some of the hardest hit communities included Jamestown, Lyons, Longmont, Glen Haven, Estes Park and Evans.

At the request of Gov. John Hickenlooper, President Obama signed a major disaster declaration for Colorado on Sept. 14, 2013.

The 11 counties designated for Individual Assistance under the major disaster declaration are Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Clear Creek, El Paso, Fremont, Jefferson, Larimer, Logan, Morgan and Weld.

The 18 counties designated for Public Assistance are Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Clear Creek, Crowley, Denver, El Paso, Fremont, Gilpin, Jefferson, Lake, Larimer, Lincoln, Logan, Morgan, Sedgwick, Washington and Weld.                 

Other federal recovery activities and programs include:

Hazard Mitigation

  • Approximately 50 percent of Public Assistance permanent repair work and nearly 65 percent of large (more than $67,500) Public Assistance projects contain mitigation measures to lessen the impact of similar disasters on publicly owned infrastructure. These mitigation measures have been approved for 123 projects with a cost of $3,439,200.
  • FEMA hazard mitigation specialists have provided county and local officials with technical assistance and reviews of existing flood control measures and challenges, helping revise hazard mitigation plans, and providing advice and counsel on numerous mitigation and flood insurance issues.
  • FEMA flood insurance inspectors assisted county officials to assess substantial damage at identified sites.
  • National Flood Insurance Program specialists as well as the state NFIP coordinator and state mapping coordinator met with the City of Evans to discuss floodplain management and the city’s recent adoption of the Weld County preliminary maps. The State and FEMA will continue to work with city officials by providing additional training and technical assistance to support their floodplain management program.

Disaster Case Management Program

  • FEMA has awarded a Disaster Case Management Grant of $2,667,963 to the State of Colorado. Under this state-administered program, case managers will meet one-on-one with survivors to assess unmet disaster-related needs that have not been covered by other resources.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance

  • $302,795 has been dispersed to 151 applicants in this federally funded, state-administered program.

Crisis Counseling Grant Program

  • Colorado Spirit crisis counselors have talked directly with 18,178 people and provided referrals and other helpful information to more than 88,000. Counselors met with nearly 1,200 individuals or families in their homes. The counselors are continuing door-to-door services and community outreach counseling programs. In mid-March, the longer-term Crisis Counseling Regular Services Program grant will be awarded to the State to continue the program.
  • The grant will provide an additional nine months of crisis counseling outreach services to survivors.

Voluntary Agencies

  • At the height of the disaster there were 53 agencies that ultimately provided a total of 275,784 volunteer hours. Survivors received shelter, food, water, snacks, muck-out, and debris removal.
  • Long Term Recovery Groups have been established in Larimer, Weld and Boulder counties, and Longmont and Lyons.
  • El Paso and Fremont counties are offering case management through El Paso County Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters.

Disaster Legal Services Program

  • Through the Colorado Bar Association/American Bar Association  program, 284 State Bar-Licensed volunteer attorneys assisted 619 survivors with disaster-related legal issues. The program completed operations at the end of February.

Federal Disaster Recovery Coordination

  • The Federal Disaster Recovery Coordination group has brought together federal and state subject-matter experts to advise local and state decision-makers on the best methods to achieve an effective recovery. The FDRC focuses on how best to restore, redevelop and revitalize the health, social, economic, natural and environmental fabric of the community.
  • The group’s recently released Mission Scoping Assessment lists recovery-related impacts and the breadth of support needed, as well as evaluates gaps between recovery needs and capabilities. Its soon-to-be-released Recovery Support Strategies document outlines state recovery priorities and discusses how federal agencies can support those efforts.
  • The State of Colorado, FDRC and other federal agencies are:
  • assisting Lyons and Jamestown with long-term community planning and recovery organization;
  • facilitating a survey to gauge impacts of flooding on business communities;
  • helping identify housing options for disaster survivors, and
  • helping local governments identify stream channel choke points so local communities can prioritize limited hazard reduction in streams.

Social Media

  • By clicking the “like” button on the COEmergency Facebook page, Coloradans can get detailed posts with useful information and photos. The Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management’s (DHSEM) Twitter account COEmergency has more than 23,000 followers and offers disaster recovery information, links to news products and other information that disaster survivors may still find useful.
  • More than 1,000 tweets have provided response and recovery information. Since the September floods began, more than 1,200 new participants have started following FEMA Region 8.

As today’s business environment requires greater levels of business continuity than ever before, a new survey commissioned by Avaya demonstrates that traditional network vulnerabilities are causing more business impacts that most realize, resulting in revenue and job losses.

The survey of mid-to-large companies in the United States, Canada, and United Kingdom found that 82 percent of those surveyed experienced some type of network downtime caused by IT personnel making errors when configuring changes to the core of the network. In fact, the survey found that one-fifth of all network downtime in 2013 was caused by core errors. Even more troubling is the fact that 80 percent of companies experiencing downtime from core errors in 2013 lost revenue, with the average company losing $140,003 per incident. The financial sector lost an average of $540,358 per incident.

The resulting impact on a career can be significant: 1 in 5 companies fired an IT employee when a network downtime incident occurred. The factor was more dramatic for some industries. Respondents also said that 1 in 3 companies in the natural resources, utilities & telecoms sector sacked IT staff due to downtime caused by change errors.

Survey methodology:
Avaya surveyed 210 IT professionals in large organizations (250+ employees) within the United States, Canada and United Kingdom to understand how much revenue was lost in total as a result of all the downtime incidents caused by core network changes in 2013. The surveys were completed in January 2014 in coordination with Dynamic Markets (UK).

www.avaya.com

Disasters both natural and human-caused can damage or destroy data and communications networks. Presentations at the 2014 OFC Conference and Exposition, being held March 9th-13th in San Francisco, Calif., USA will offer new information on strategies that can mitigate the impacts of these disasters:

New algorithm finds safe refuge for cloud data 

Much of our computing these days, from browsing websites and watching online videos to checking email and following social networks, relies on the cloud. The cloud lives in data centers and disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, or even terrorist attacks, can damage the data centers and the communication links between them, causing massive losses in data and costly disruptions.

To mitigate such potential damage, researchers from the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), Sakarya University in Turkey, and Politecnico de Milano in Italy, first analyzed the risk that a disaster may pose to a communications network, based on the possible damage of a data center or the links that connect them to users. Then, they created an algorithm that keeps data safe by moving or copying the data from data centers in peril to more secure locations away from the disaster. The algorithm assesses the risks for damage and users' demands on the network to determine, in real-time, which locations would provide the safest refuge from a disaster.

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http://www.continuitycentral.com/news07124.html

CIO — The adoption of virtualization in recent years has laid the groundwork for many IT organizations to move from on-premise data centers to co-located environments and the cloud, says Craig Wright, principal at IT and outsourcing consultancy Pace Harmon. The increased acceptance of high-density platforms that require much smaller physical locations encourages portability as well.

Cloud implementation continues to grow, whether public cloud for standardized situations or private clouds for solutions that are differentiating or have increased security or regulatory requirements. That's driving more focus on orchestrating and aggregating infrastructure services, Wright says.

And automation is starting to shake things up with the promise of the software-defined data center. "In this scenario, everything in the data center is virtualized -- applications, databases, networks -- and an automation layer extends across all virtualization layers to create a unified platform," says Wright. This emerging approach requires a high level of virtualization maturity and orchestration sophistication to put all the pieces together efficiently.

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http://www.cio.com/article/749381/6_IT_Strategies_to_Stay_Ahead_of_Data_Center_Trends

MT. PROSPECT, IL –  Cyber Innovation Labs Professional Services (CIL-PS), leading provider of data center professional and managed services announced today that Sabey Data Centers (SDC) has selected CIL-PS to deliver a complete suite of cloud, colocation and data center services across the three million-square-foot SDC facility portfolio in a non-exclusive relationship.

SDC and CIL-PS are working together to help small and medium businesses, enterprise and federal agencies plan, deploy and manage cloud environments and deliver a suite of unparalleled data center services.

CIL-PS will provide SDC with data center services, including full-lifecycle server and storage consolidation, migration and centralization, network deployment, private cloud services, and IT staff augmentation. From strategy and design to execution and management, CIL-PS enables data center transformation for a truly modernized and optimized data center environment.

In addition, CIL-PS will provide Sabey with reseller rights to a specialized product offering in the cloud service subcategory, including, but not limited to: FLEXCloud – a unique 100% private/single tenant cloud offering; FLEXCenter – a fully demised tier 3+/2N MEP infrastructure; and FLEXServices – professional and managed services, complete turnkey move/migrations, virtualization, swing and hot/recovery site offerings.

Sabey will provide CIL-PS with a highly secure, mission critical environment offering wholesale colocation, powered shell and turnkey operations. Sabey’s proprietary IGX interconnectivity links all Sabey data centers coast-to-coast, offering the capability of storing and processing non-latency critical information at low-cost and sustainable hydro power rates. Sabey Data Centers’ modules are designed to provide scalability and efficient, reliable mission critical performance for data center users. Virtually any data center floor configuration preference can be accommodated.

Through this partnership, CIL-PS and SDC will combine their complementary services, ecosystems and expertise to co-develop innovative solutions for businesses. Sabey will combine its expertise in the custom design, construction and operation of more than 20 million square feet of space with CIL-PS’s range of best-of-breed consultative, professional and managed services. With this collaboration, clients will leverage the unique blend of CIL-PS proven processes and expertise in cloud, colocation, managed and professional services, as well as the capabilities of Sabey Data Centers. This combination helps ensure that cloud initiatives and data center services are delivered with high performance, best-in-class processes and reduced risk.

Kris Domich, President, Cyber Innovation Labs – Professional Services, stated, “By combining our collective portfolio of high-end data center products and services, CIL-PS and Sabey Data Centers offers clients a comprehensive, full lifecycle experience that addresses the risks and challenges that clients of all sizes are facing today.” Mr. Domich adds, “We believe that clients will benefit greatly from a simplified relationship resulting in more services available from fewer vendors. Outsourcing is about optimization and reduced costs, and the CIL-PS / SDC partnership allows both of these benefits to be realized immediately.”

John Sabey, President, Sabey Data Centers, said, “Our partnership with CIL-PS answers today’s increasing demands for mission critical environments that offer high physical security, electrical power and telecommunications connectivity. By necessity or foresight, enterprises are migrating to purpose-built facilities that can future proof their IT needs. We are delighted to take this opportunity to partner with an industry leader.”

About Cyber Innovation Labs Professional Services
Cyber Innovation Labs Professional Services is a leading provider of data center professional and managed services. We leverage best-of-breed data center practices and leading technology network solutions to deliver highly secure, customized and scalable IT infrastructures as well as fully managed

private / single tenant cloud services. CIL-PS has pioneered the migration / transformation of the traditional data center model, setting a new benchmark for the way major enterprises access, collaborate, manage and transform their critical IT service platforms. To learn about Cyber Innovation Labs Professional Services, visitwww.cyberinnovationlabs.com.

About Sabey Data Centers

With a portfolio of more than three million square feet of mission critical space, Sabey Data Center Properties is one of the oldest and largest privately owned multi-tenant data center owner/developer/operators in the United States. Sabey specializes in scalable, custom-built solutions including data center ready shell space and fully turnkey data centers managed by Sabey’s award-winning critical environment staff. Consistently recognized for its reputation for operational excellence through its world-class data centers and sustained uptime, Sabey boasts one of the most sterling tenant rosters in the industry. www.sabeydatacenters.com.

CIO — This week's HP Industry Analyst Summit is IT's first company-wide, analyst-only event. That means it sets the bar that the others will attempt to beat this year.

Five areas define a good analyst event:

  1. Executive preparation: Did they take the event seriously?
  2. Demonstrated loyalty and collaboration: Is this a company — or a bunch of combatants?
  3. Dogfooding: Does the firm use its own products?
  4. Customers as vendor advocates: Does the customer have a voice?
  5. Entertainment: Are the analysts in the crowd checking email?

Analysts are a leveraged resource. If excited, they drive business to the vendor. If not, this value won't materialize. If alienated, they drive business from the vendor at a multiple based on the number of IT buyers or investors they touch.

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http://www.cio.com/article/749320/HP_Sets_Standard_for_2014_IT_Analyst_Presentations

IDG News Service (Tokyo Bureau) — The market for external disk storage systems has recovered from a slump, with factory revenues up 2.4 percent to US$6.9 billion in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to an IDC study.

Internal plus external disk storage systems produced $8.8 billion in revenue, up 1.3 percent from the last quarter of 2012 and jumping 17.2 percent from 2013's third quarter, which was seasonally slow.

IDC defines a disk storage system as a set of storage elements either inside or outside a server, including controllers, cables and (in some instances) host bus adapters, associated with three or more disks. It said total capacity of such systems shipped in the fourth quarter topped 10.2 exabytes (10.2 billion gigabytes), an increase of 26.2 percent from a year before.

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http://www.cio.com/article/749373/External_Disk_Storage_Market_Recovers_From_Slump