COVID-19 – Maintaining a global infrastructure

COVID-19 – Maintaining a global infrastructure

COVID-19 – Maintaining a global infrastructure

24th March, 2020

Dealing with multiple data center vendors across four continents in order to meet that golden 99.999% up-time for all of your clients is challenging at the best of times. Now add to that a global pandemic with entire countries in lockdown and where does that leave you when it comes to getting access to your back-end infrastructure?

You can only plan for so much. Rewind eight weeks, if someone told you to prepare for a global travel ban, closed borders and social distancing you would have been laughed at and told them to seek help.

There is always a balance between covering every eventuality versus what is realistically feasible. Can you have a critical spare of every single device in every single site? The realistic answer to that is no.  You may have critical spares of switches, cables, SFPs and maybe even the odd spare server. But will the specification of that switch or server meet all your needs for that site?

So how do you maintain your infrastructure when data centers around the world are imposing access restrictions? The initial answer to that is you design out all of your single points of failure in the first place. When you look at Options’ back-end infrastructure, every device on our networks is dual-powered and fed from separate UPS. Every server is connected to two switches via different NICs. Critical cross-connects are ordered in pairs. Multiple WAN circuits are delivered over diverse routes and carriers. DR servers run in geographically diverse datacentres. The list goes on. The point here is if you design your network to withstand an impact such as a core switch failing or even an entire datacentre going offline, then all of sudden the fear of being restricted access to multiple sites simultaneously is not so scary.

Let’s look back to October 2012. Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast and caused almost $70 billion in damage. The impact on the Options infrastructure? Zero! Our design and infrastructure stability were proven fit to weather the storm then and we are doing it again now.

We are in constant communication with the data centers and opened the COVID-19 discussion with them as early as February. As of today, all of our European data centers have imposed access restrictions. Many of our UK sites have followed suit and we expect the US to start locking down all but essential access in the coming days. Even when data centers close their doors to their clients, they all still have an obligation to keep us running. Every data center that Options resides in have released BCPs with regular updates around their approach to COVID-19 and every one of the data centers has remote hands facilities that we can call upon if necessary.

Recently, we have reviewed and increased our on-site critical stock. With this and our meticulous documentation around equipment, rack layouts and cabling within our sites, we are confident we can work closely with our data center partners to maintain our high levels of service.

These are indeed challenging times and those that weather this storm the best are those that have designed and planned their infrastructure from the ground up to cope with even the most demanding and unexpected situations.

Glenn Selby, Global Head of Datacenters

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