The tyranny of five 9s

I was at a conference recently where one of the speakers was talking about their services uptime during the past year.  99.998% uptime flashed on the screen to the applause of the mostly technical multitude!  Some quick math told me that this system had experience only 10.512 minutes of unscheduled downtime during the previous 525,600 minutes (remember the song from “Rent”)! Very impressive numbers!  However, it got me thinking about overall computer system reliability, how we put our faith in numbers and sort of arbitrarily create standards which are difficult and expensive to maintain.

 Years ago, when competition was coming to our country’s landline telephone network , the “Bell” companies and AT&T touted that no other company or system could get close to their “Five 9s” in reliability. Again, doing the math, that’s only 5.256 minutes of unscheduled network downtime annually.   “Ma Bell” was right.  The landline networks (both voice and data) are “only” 99.995% reliable (averaging several government and industry surveys).  So the average landline voice or data network can expect to have 26.28 minutes of unscheduled downtime annually.  


A business continuity plan - Reduce your worry

 used with permission from HP Technology at Work

When a business’s data is compromised, it’s just a matter of time before things begin to fall apart. As a result, the importance of having a business continuity plan in place is never clearer than during times like those. Sometimes known as a disaster recovery plan, a business continuity plan not only prepares your business for how to protect its data, but also how to prepare itself in the event of a catastrophic power failure or natural disaster. 

As far as protecting your business is concerned, a business continuity plan is also the least expensive option for small companies because it costs virtually nothing to produce. Utilizing tools such as HP Business Continuity and Recovery Services, and putting the plan into practice, will dramatically improve your chances of continuing operations during a significant event.


DriveSavers now HIPAA compliant

We have been using DriveSavers to recover important user data for many years.  When a diskdrive is damaged to the point where we can not get data off of it and the data MUST be recovered, DriveSavers has done the job.  Look at Disk Drive Data Recovery for more information.

DriveSavers has achieved compliance with all forty-two data security standards outlined in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Performed by Trusted Consulting Compliance (TrustCC), the evaluation of compliance was designed to measure the controls over DriveSavers data recovery processes as they are performed for customers with damaged media containing electronic protected health information (ePHI).

Damaged media received from healthcare providers may contain sensitive electronic data such as: patient and lab records, as well as medical transcripts for doctors, hospitals and/or clinics. DriveSavers is the only certified HIPAA compliant data recovery service provider in the industry that has satisfactorily met all forty-two data security standards.

"With an increase in the amount of sensitive patient data that is being stored electronically, plus the strict regulations for securing ePHI data, it's no surprise that data breach is top of mind for CIOs at medical centers," said Michael Hall, CISO at DriveSavers Data Recovery. "Our healthcare customers can feel confident that our data recovery services meet HIPAA data security standards as well as other important security standards and protocols."  


Disasters do happen here

Over the years at The Computing Center, we’ve cautioned many of our clients to have some kind of plan in case of a disaster.  Or we’ve recommended that clients make changes to their system environment that could be beneficial in the event of a fire, flood, or other natural or man-made catastrophe.  To be candid, we get quite a bit of push back.  Comments like:

  • “Nothing like that will happen to us.  Our building is secure and safe.”
  • “We do backups of our data.  What else do we need?”
  • “We have insurance, just in case!”  (Our insurance clients NEVER say that!)

These past few weeks have shown that our corner of Central New York is not immune to the wrath of Mother Nature.  Two tropical storms dumped record amounts of rain on our friends to the south in Tioga and Broome Counties.  Even at this writing, there are still homes and business that are not fully pumped out.  There is tons of mud and debris to deal with and people are still without utilities.  All of our local human service agencies as well as hundreds of volunteers are spending many hours providing greatly needed donations of food, clothing, money and time to help support and rebuild the affected areas.  


Disaster-proof you business

    • First, map out a disaster plan.
      Many business owners haven't given a thought as to what they might do in the event of a fire, earthquake or some other sort of catastrophe that could damage their business severely. So, work up a detailed plan, taking into account as many variables as you can imagine. Take planning for earthquakes and other natural disasters seriously. You should know where you can move your merchandise to safety and where you can reach your insurance agent in a hurry. Draw up a map of shut-off valves for gas, electricity and other utilities. Draft the same sort of plan for other emergency situations, such as floods, fires and even civil unrest. For example, one note to yourself might be that in the event of riots, or even just a rash of robberies, you would leave your lights on at night so the police could spot anyone trying to break in. "It's an old barber shop trick, but think about leaving the cash register open and in plain view," says Gayle Marco, an associate professor of marketing at Robert Morris College in Pennsylvania. "That way, everyone can see there's no money in there."

    • Back up computer files somewhere else.
      Any business owner with extensive computer files and records needs to back them up on a regular basis. But take that bit of common sense a step further and make certain your backups are located somewhere other than your business. For instance, look into mainframe computer services that offer backup space - those might be located across town or across the continent, but just make certain that, should something happen to your business, your backup files are safely ensconced somewhere else. Even better: Ask anyone with whom you work, such as an accountant or attorney, how they back up their files that pertain to your business. Another option is "cloud" storage, in which your essential data is backed up on a network of remote servers, through services such as Windows Azure.


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