The coming year will be a pivotal one for a wide range of data center components including everything from servers and storage to the virtual layer and cloud architectures. But before I get to all of those, I thought it would be a good idea to see what is likely to happen to the data center itself. After all, with enterprise infrastructure poised for some truly wide-scale distribution, the data center is increasingly being viewed as a single component of perhaps a global data environment.
And while some may argue that the data center will diminish in importance as responsibility for actual physical layer infrastructure falls to the cloud provider, the fact remains that for the coming year, at least, enterprises of all sizes will rely on their own data facilities to a higher degree than in years past.
If you can see what will happen in the future, you can take steps to prepare for it – or avoid it, or even change it. That’s the promise of predictive analytics, a topic that naturally interests business continuity managers. While there’s no guarantee of exact predictions, predictive analytics can indicate change patterns and emerging trends. Sensibly constructed models can show areas of combined high uncertainty and influence, where particular attention should be paid in preparing to ensure continuity. However, predictive analytics as such fall short in two areas related to business continuity: one of them can be ‘fixed’ by using a similar approach, whereas the other cannot.
Many folks take the days between Christmas and New Year’s off. Others, of course, have to work, despite the consumption of too much egg nog.
If you do have to work, it makes sense to be as productive as possible. This year, keep in mind that the late fall has been characterized by winter-like weather. It is not a good sign that suddenly the people who are in charge of this sort of thing have decided to name the storms that seem to be meandering from west to east on a regular basis.
So why not focus on a business continuity plan? These templates are vital, and may come in handy very quickly.
Nothing happens without good planning and implementation strategies and this is required when planning out the development of the Business Continuity Management (BCM) / Disaster Recovery (DR) program. It’s impossible to just start something without having any idea when you’ll be finished or what you need to reach along the way to be able to take the next step.
Often, to get proper buy-in from executives, a BCM/DR practitioner has to provide a timeline alongside the goals and deliverables the project will provide. Its one thing to provide the reasons why you need a program and if those are accepted by executives as valid reasons (let’s hope they think so…), the next question will be, “When will it be done?” So, a draft timeline must be mapped out; from how long a BIA will take and when the findings will be delivered to when the 1st test will occur.
Of course, it will all be built upon assumptions such as resource availability for example, but a high-level timeline must be provided to executives. Below are ten considerations a practitioner must keep in mind when building the BCM/DR program:
IDG News Service (Boston Bureau) — While the bulk of enterprise software is still deployed on-premises, SaaS (software as a service) continues to undergo rapid growth. Gartner has said the total market will top $22 billion through 2015, up from more than $14 billion in 2012.
The SaaS market will likely see significant changes and new trends in 2014 as vendors jockey for competitive position and customers continue shifting their IT strategies toward the deployment model. Here's a look at some of the possibilities.
A storm that left at least nine people dead and more than 400,000 without power this weekend was pushing its way into Canada on Sunday, but holiday travelers may still face slick roads as the system douses the Southeast with heavy rainfall.
The storm that brought high winds, ice, snow and rain to a wide swath of the Southeast before roaring north will affect sections of the USA through Monday night, said Frank Strait, senior meteorologist with AccuWeather.
"The main part of the storm is pulling away into Canada now and taking some of the snow with it,'' Strait said. But a lingering cold front could stretch from Virginia to Pensacola, Fla., causing heavy downpours before the system finally begins to weaken.
Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks certainly aren’t new. I’ve been talking about them for years. However, they have been changing. The traditional style of attack, the flood-the-target type that crashes a website, is still going strong. But now we are seeing an increase in application-layer attacks that have the same goal: Systems go down, resources are unavailable and the victim is scrambling to fix everything.
Recently, Vann Abernethy, senior product manager for NSFOCUS, talked to me about the changing DDoS landscape. Something he has noticed is how DDoS attacks are being used as smokescreens to cover up other criminal activity. He said:
In fact, the FBI warned of one such attack type back in November of 2011, which relies upon the insertion of some form of malware. When the attacker is ready to activate the malware, a DDoS attack is launched to occupy defenders. In this case, the DDoS attack is really nothing more than a smokescreen used to confuse the defenses and allow the real attack to go unnoticed – at least initially. Considering that most malware goes undetected for long periods of time, even a small DDoS attack should be a huge red flag that something else may be going on.
It couldn’t have happened at a worse time for a retailer. Target informed shoppers that if they charged an item at Target stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15, their credit and debit card accounts may have been compromised—as much as 40 million cards in all.
While online shoppers typically have been the victims, this time hackers went through the physical checkout systems inside every Target store—about 2,000 stores, 1,797 in the United States and 124 in Canada. It’s possible that every shopper who swiped a credit card or entered a pin number at the point of sale had their information stolen.
Barbara Endicott-Popovsky, director of the Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity at the University of Washington told TIME Magazine that hacking “is a business. The general public would be shocked and amazed by the size of the problem.”
Give the IT industry credit for facing up to the challenge of energy consumption over the past few years. Once it entered the popular consciousness that data infrastructure consumes a significant portion of total energy capacity, industry leaders across the board set to work building more efficient infrastructure.
Part of this was simple economics, of course – less energy means lower operating costs. And to be sure, virtualization came along at just the right time to slim down hardware footprints without sacrificing data processing capabilities.
And now it seems some planners are moving onto the next goal, and a rather ambitious one at that: the zero-carbon data center. A colocation firm in Iceland is nearing completion on a facility that relies entirely on hydroelectric and geothermal sources to power its fully modular data infrastructure. The company recently installed a free air cooling system from Eaton-Williams that operates without chillers or mechanical cooling of any kind, instead taking advantage of arctic winds brought in by the Gulf Stream. The Tier-3 facility measures about 23,000 square meters and is backed by redundant UPS supplies for critical systems, with power densities ranging from 4 kW to 16 kW per rack.
By Dan Watson, Public Affairs
At the end of each week, we post a "What We’re Watching" blog as we look ahead to the weekend and recap events from the week. We encourage you to share it with your friends and family, and have a safe weekend.
A Potentially Stormy Holiday
According to our friends at the National Weather Service, a storm system is set to track across the nation this weekend, impacting states in a variety of ways and potentially disrupting holiday travel. Here’s the latest forecast from the NWS:
- Heavy rain is forecast from the lower Mississippi River Valley to the Ohio Valley this weekend with a risk for flash flooding.
- A wintry mix, including freezing rain and snow, is possible from the central Great Plains, through the Great Lakes and to northern New England this weekend.
- The NWS Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has indicated a Moderate Risk of severe thunderstorms on Saturday, with possible tornadoes, for portions of the Lower Mississippi Valley.
- Severe thunderstorms are possible from the Central Gulf Coast/Lower Mississippi Valley into the Ohio Valley Saturday.
As you travel to visit friends and loved ones for the holidays, we encourage you to exercise caution and monitor weather conditions as they change. Stay up-to-date on weather conditions in your area by visit weather.gov or mobile.weather.gov on your mobile device. Also, visit Ready.gov for more winter weather safety tips and other great resources!
Be Prepared in 2014!
With the New Year around the corner, it’s time to make our resolutions. Why not Resolve to be Ready for an emergency?
This year, we’re continuing our Resolve to be Ready campaign with an emphasis on 'Family Connections' – reinforcing the importance of getting kids involved in preparedness conversations in advance of an emergency. We’re making your emergency preparedness resolution easy to keep this year with three simple tips when making a plan: who to call, where to meet and what to pack.
Here’s what you can do:
- Make a family communication plan that answers – who to call, where to meet and what to pack.
- Join our Thunderclap on Facebook and Twitter and share a New Year's resolution of preparedness with your followers. How does Thunderclap work? Once you sign up, Thunderclap will sync your social media accounts to release an automatic Facebook post, Tweet or both on January, 1, 2014 at 12:30 PM reminding your friends and followers to make a family emergency plan.
- Use #Prepared2014 in your social media messaging throughout 2014 to remind your friends and followers to be prepared for emergencies all year long.
- Share preparedness messages from the Ready Facebook and Twitter feeds.
Visit ready.gov/prepared2014 for more information on how you can Resolve to be Ready in 2014!
Photos of the Week
Here are a few of our favorite photos that came into our Photo Library this week.
New Topics on Our Online Collaboration Tool
We’ve recently launched a few new topics on our online collaboration tool and as always, we want to hear your thoughts and ideas. Head on over and share your ideas, comment on others ideas, and vote for your favorite.
- FEMA’s Strategic Priorities
- Private Sector Technology Volunteers Supporting Disaster Response
- Increasing Transparency & Enhancing Disaster Preparedness
That’s it for today’s What We’re Watching. On behalf of everyone at FEMA, we wish you and your family a wonderful and safe holiday!