Longboat Key falls geographically into both Sarasota and Manatee counties. Tom Warner, Sarasota County's disaster recovery administrator, began conversations in 2004 with IT leaders in several western counties throughout the state. The result: Warner co-founded the Florida Technology Disaster Recovery Consortium, with Kevin Kryzda, CIO of Martin County, to help one another with replication throughout the region.
"The thought process was: How can we help each other because we are in Hurricane Alley, and what can we put in place long before hurricane season starts to ensure critical applications can be safe?" Warner explains. They looked at data centers to see which were hardened, which category of hurricane they could withstand and if they had additional floor space to house the counties' servers in their location.
With Sarasota County in the lead, the group eventually brokered a deal with Verizon to secure rack and server space for several counties in one of Verizon's switching centers, a secure brick building with no windows located near a major highway and around 10 miles inland from Longboat Key.
The town has replicated its servers at Suncoast Technology Center -- the former Verizon switching center -- and "though we don't have everything on it, as budgets allow, we've replicated the critical applications, including a mirror image of our production server, payroll, general ledger and public safety data," Pletzke says.
Because there are a lot of elderly people in Florida, "we wanted to replicate our website in [adjoining] Martin County so that in the event of disaster, people could check up on their parents in Sarasota County and see that they are well," Warner says. The consortium has also boosted cooperation among many counties to ensure that IT managers can get emergency access to guest servers and generators to keep computers running smoothly.
-- Arielle Emmett
Ignorance isn't bliss
"What was perceived as a safe area before may not be now," says Rakesh Kumar, a Gartner vice president who specializes in data center and infrastructure issues. In Europe, especially, he cites freezing temperatures, coastal flooding and other unpredictable weather events. In Asia, tsunamis are a concern. "Until we have a major data outage, though, most clients are not calculating for risk or change; they're turning a blind eye to it," Kumar says.
Many of his European and U.S. clients praise the idea of doing thorough risk assessments and thinking proactively, long-term, he says. At least in theory.