In order to be disaster-resistant, you need to be ready to handle everything from minimal issues like recovering deleted files all the way to larger tasks like migrating an entire server to temporary virtual environment. But disaster resistance also means you need to understand Murphy’s Law.
According to an article on Murphys-laws.com, Capt. Edward A. Murphy was an engineer working on an Air Force project to understand how much deceleration a pilot can withstand in a crash. One day Murphy cursed a technician for wiring a transducer incorrectly saying, “If there is any way to do it wrong, he’ll find it.” The manager of the project kept a list of various “laws” to which he added this one, dubbing it Murphy’s Law. In a press conference held a short time later, a member of the research group thanked the crew’s firm belief in circumventing Murphy’s Law for their success, and thus the law was concreted in history.
In contemporary usage, Murphy’s Law states that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Murphy himself was not merely being negative—his approach was one that took into account anything that could likely go wrong so that efforts could be made to prevent them.
Interestingly enough, Murphy and solution provider Innovative Business Systems (IBS) have a lot in common. IBS is a Massachusetts-based service provider that handles an assortment of clients ranging from medical firms to community banks to real estate and insurance agencies. Having worked in the industry for 25 years, IBS understands that things can always go wrong, whether it’s a large issue or a little one, but, as technical service manager Sean Benoit notes, it’s usually small.
“People think of a disaster as a fire, flood, blizzard, tornado, hailstorm, hurricane, or meteor, but it’s usually just Murphy’s Law kicking in.”
Understanding this law ahead of time can alleviate a lot of stress, and luckily, IBS is always ready for things to go wrong, even while making improvements to a network.
Few would assume that routine maintenance would cause any sort of problem, but you can never be too sure.
“Even with the best laid plans you can end up with an issue.”
The engineers at IBS arrived at a client’s office early one morning to handle some routine maintenance before business got started.
“We were doing some maintenance on a storage-area network. We shut down all the VMs through the hypervisor console and got everything else shut down correctly. Everything went down gracefully and we did the maintenance we were supposed to do.”
It’s great when everything goes according to plan. The IBS engineers got everything sorted out and started firing the machines back up. Everything was fine until they noticed a problem,
“When we started bringing servers back up, all but one came on—we couldn’t even boot it in safe mode.”
IBS was servicing a small business with about fifteen employees that work remotely. The server that wouldn’t come up was a small business server that had file shares the remote employees needed access to, but couldn’t until the server was back online. With the flip of a switch, more than half of the client’s workforce went dark. Luckily, IBS took backups using StorageCraft ShadowProtect and were ready to get right to work,
“We were able to Virtualboot [a ShadowProtect] incremental backup we took about three minutes before we shut things down. After that we were able to implement a manual HeadStart Restore so we could get the server back over to the live infrastructure environment with no data loss.”
Having taken precautions ahead of time, Sean and IBS were able to restore the failed server with no data loss and minimal downtime. Murphy’s Law will prove itself true when you least expect it, but with a little forethought, you’ll barely notice.
Everything probably won’t go wrong as the adage states. Murphy’s law is more hyperbole than anything, but it’s a useful way to approach backup and disaster recovery planning because it forces you take into account all the thing that can go wrong, and to imagine what would happen if they did. Understanding and preparing for all of the possibilities is the only way to be disaster-resistant.
To learn more about Innovative Business Systems, visit their website.