Disaster Recovery and Cloud Computing

Overview

DLAS is coordinating an effort to consolidate the data center resources of the General Assembly. The Senate of Virginia, House of Delegates, and the agencies supported by the DLAS have joined together to combine the physical server needs of the General Assembly using server virtualization software and a shared data storage pool. Excess equipment will be redeployed as backup systems at a remote hot site facility. The ability to communicate with each other no matter the level of the disaster is the key to a successful disaster recovery scenario.

Challenge

Running a data center in an aging facility can be challenging. Power fluctuations, leaky pipes, and temperamental HVAC systems remind us that a local disaster can happen at anytime. The email systems, and telephone and network infrastructures of the General Assembly terminate at the data center. As such, any disaster that interrupts access or functioning of the data center could result in a denial of computing services to the General Assembly.The ultimate goal in any disaster recovery scenario is to return to "normal" and get as many people working as quickly as possible.

Solution

A joint task force comprised of staff from all three agencies are working cooperatively to initiate a plan that meets the needs of all stakeholders without compromise of mission or security. Consolidating and virtualizing the file servers has freed hardware resources to build a remote hotsite facility where data will be replicated and subsequently stored off-site. A "cloud" based email system will provide an alternative communication platform and document production environment to allow remotely-based users to continue working until the hot site is activated. With the hot site activated, cloud-based services enabled, and access to web-enabled applications, the General Assembly and its agencies would be fully operational within 48 hours of the initial disaster.