The panelists included representatives from Atlantic Philanthropies, Carnegie Hall, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. The Technology Affinity Group is made up of IT managers at foundations, mostly in the U.S. and Canada. Its Website is http://www.tagtech.org/.
All of the panelists have worked with CGNET to install business continuity solutions, and their individual approaches yielded some great stories and useful tips.
Carnegie Hall, for example, is moving its entire data center to a managed hosting service provider in New Jersey while keeping print services, security, networking and replica servers in its historic New York building. The move allows Carnegie Hall to defer the cost of retrofitting its 115-year-old building to accommodate expanding IT needs, while at the same time preserving a remote disaster recovery location. “Operating the equipment off-site has also freed up a bit of time for IT staff to participate in more mission-centric activities,” said Aaron Levine, Carnegie Hall’s CIO.
Atlantic Philanthropies, another New York-based client, is in the process of reorganizing its business continuity systems to take advantage of its global network of offices. The New York and Dublin offices will mutually replicate their email and other servers to each other, while other offices in Bermuda, Belfast and Hanoi will feed into this core. The email replication system will also provide message archiving.
The new, more extensive system has been informed by lessons learned when a widely publicized steam-pipe explosion in New York City closed the foundation’s offices for a week in July. The foundation’s GIFTS and Dynamics databases moved to the replica servers quickly and effectively, but other, non-protected systems were out longer. A key lesson was the importance of providing the greatest continuity for email, which was what users missed most.
Matt Sharp, the Packard Foundation’s director of information technology, stressed a high tech and low tech strategy for business continuity. The foundation relies on high-tech, host-based replication to CGNET’s Sacramento co-location facility to protect its servers. On the low-tech side, however, the foundation focuses on being able to pay employees, pay vendors, and support local grantees during the disaster. The key elements of the low-tech approach are printed copies of the necessary records and financial instruments, plus agreements with banks and other external partners to backstop the foundation’s funding activities during a major disaster.
Georg Lindsey, CGNET’s founder and CEO, moderated the session and presented a model that included not only disaster recovery but disaster preparedness on the same continuum. He noted that users’ increasing demand for no downtime at all has really turn