The Other Casualties

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Some thoughts about disaster recovery of data.–Odd One/Ed

(I’ve modified this article a lot, mostly by adding more material. So if something
in it gets you mad, yell at me.–Ed)

By now, all have heard about the multiple terrorist attacks against civilian
and military targets in the United States. Two of the
largest things humanity has ever built, the World Trade
Center’s twin 110-story skyscrapers, were destroyed
after being rammed by jets. Another jet
nailed the side of the Pentagon, the central command
center for US military operations.

Lost were thousands and thousands of lives. The lucky
dead were snuffed out of existence. Those not-so-lucky
had to wait their turn to eternity under hell-on-earth conditions so bad
some jumped rather than ride the one-time roller coaster down.

But they were not the only casualties.

So begins the greatest experiment in disaster
recovery the IT world has ever seen.

Not to equate the two, but loss of data can be as just as fatal
to a business as crashing jets are to flesh and blood.

A lot of companies had offices, and often their world headquarters, on
those two buildings. A wealth of business-critical
data was in that complex, and is now also no more.

Statistically, if a small company experiences a loss of
business-critical data, that results in the collapse and failure of the
business over half the time. Over half. No matter the size of the
company, the same principle applies – lose your data, lose your business.

You will hear and read and see the valiant efforts of those
firemen to recover man. But at the same time, another
set of firemen, with backups rather than bulldozers, will
be doing their own recovery, one perhaps even more important to
America’s long-term security.

Horrific as the destruction and death of yesterday was, it did
not dent America. Had those planes plowed into Wall St., or even
some back offices you’ve never heard of in New Jersey, it would have hurt Americans less but might have
hurt America more.

What will happen outside the spotlight will be the greatest demonstration so far of the power of
regular backups, and backup procedures off-site. It will demonstrate how well an IT
infrastructure can withstand having a large chunk of
itself immolated in one fell swoop. Companies will suddenly have to cope with
losing a lot of their data, and the backups will have
a lot to do with who recovers and who does not.

Short of massive NBC attack, you cannot physically paralyze America (or any other developed country), just maybe
stun or shock it for a little bit. The way you paralyze such a country is to attack its life channels, and data
has become as much part of America’s as highways and power grids.

If you stop most of a society from functioning normally, you’ve done more damage than just killing a bunch of its people. Not as obvious, not as dramatic, but much more effective.

Think about it. In Desert Storm, what did we go after first? Saddam’s palaces? No, we attacked the infrastructure so Saddam couldn’t do a damn thing from his palace or palacial hole-in-the-ground.

Or much more crudely, if you’re fighting somebody and you need him down fast, do you punch him in the face or kick him someplace?

Time will tell how well the companies that lost their
equipment will survive. For some, it will be the final test.
For many more, it will be a final warning.

Until we know the answers to
that experiment, let’s heal the physical wounds the
day’s events have brought.

Email Ed

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