Monday, October 29, 2012

Be Prepared - What Local Management can do in disaster

The expectations for the storm as of Monday morning, October 29.
As the Northeast region of the United States hunkers down for the landfall of Hurricane Sandy it seems to be a good time to reflect (under the blue skies and cool temperatures of a nice early fall day here at Uplogix headquarters in Austin) about some of the benefits Local Management offers for disaster preparedness.

Stay home, but still stay connected: Secure remote access
While the federal government and many offices are closed today, with so many workers either working remotely, or given access to work remotely, the network still needs to be up and running. For IT staff riding out the storm at home, Uplogix Local Managers (LMs) offer a direct connection to managed devices -- just like plugging into a device's console port onsite.

Connectivity is available both in- and out-of-band to ensure that admins can reach devices, as well as to feed centralized reporting tools. Think of trying to get the status of a large network in the storm's path. Surveying a dashboard, many sites might show up red, or down, but they don't all necessarily have the same issues. It's much easier to triage the situation if you know what's going on at the site. The in-depth monitoring of local management will tell you much more than just red/green -- maybe lines are down, so there isn't any connectivity in-bound, or maybe a power surge put a router into ROMmon state and will be fixed automatically by Uplogix.

AAA is enforced even when the network is down or degraded with multiple failover options to ensure that strict access control is maintained even in the event that the primary AAA server is not reachable. With Local Management, you'll know that even if parts of your network are down, access is still protected.

When the storm hits: The graceful shutdown
As the storm hits, power failures are almost a guarantee. We generally talk about the power management features in Local Management when we talk about device recovery. After all, one of the easiest techniques is to power off a device and then turn it back on. But in a storm situation, it could be that power goes out suddenly, and stays off for some time.

Uplogix can maximize the time you have on a battery backup, or minimize the drain on a generator with automated actions. A LM can gracefully shutdown network gear by issuing the proper commands and waiting for appropriate responses to ensure that your gear goes down properly. Another option would be to reconfigure network gear to operate in a "light" mode, maybe some devices can be shut down automatically to reduce the power draw.

Picking up the pieces: After the storm
Uplogix has been tested in hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, where oil operations are sometimes suspended during extreme weather. With drilling rigs costing thousands of dollars a day to operate, rapidly returning to a functioning state is critical. With Uplogix, network operators are able to remotely re-start networks with confidence saving a trip for a technician back to the vessel. In a large event, this could mean network operations are restored in hours instead of days or even weeks. Configuration files are stored locally in the LM for easy access, and they are backed up in the Uplogix Control Center for offsite redundancy.

In the event of a catastrophic network event, Uplogix can serve as the foundation of a bare-metal restore. Wire up the new gear with a LM and Uplogix can push out the previous configurations, saving hours of work, and freeing up the most skilled network technicians to focus on more difficult problems in your network.

Maybe you already have a backup network connection using satellite or Wi-Fi. Uplogix can broker the transition over to the secondary connection automatically, ensuring your downtime is minimized. 

Hope for the best, but be prepared
If you are in the storm this week, our thoughts are with you. For your personal safety, take every precaution. For your network, remember that luck favors the prepared, so make some of your own luck with Uplogix Local Management.