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Disaster drill prepares IT services for the unexpected

Miami's IT services prepares for the unexpected by holding at least one table top exercise and one disaster recovery drill a year. According to John Kinne, who heads the disaster recovery efforts, the goals for these exercises are very ambitious. “We are testing the health of our systems and our procedures, finding out where they work and where they need improvement. We are building relationships among IT services staff and the staff in the client offices on campus.”

In January, staff members from IT services and from finance and business services participated in an exercise that simulated an event where one campus computing center became unavailable, necessitating the restoration of services from an alternate location. Participants were located in multiple buildings. Finance and business services staff needed to use alternate equipment that required configuration before it was ready to be used. IT services staff had to perform short-notice emergency shutdowns on applications and redeploy them from the recovery computing center. The exercise utilized non-production copies of applications to avoid causing any disruption to ongoing, real-time university operations.

The mock disaster allowed IT staff to review how efficiently and easily services such as the Banner system and MinE could be brought back after a failure caused by a disastrous outside event. The finance and business services staff were able to gauge which services are required to process transactions such as payroll, payments and direct deposit.

As university controller Dale Hinrichs noted in the post-exercise debriefing, “Through these exercises, we continue to expand our understanding of how to react to various disasters.”

Members of the disaster recovery team also attended a seminar last winter presented by staff from universities affected by Hurricane Katrina, which emphasized the importance of emergency preparedness.

Date Published: 05/25/2006
Volume: 25   Number: 36

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