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Disaster Recovery: Investing in the Survival of your Network

November 30th, 2017 By Gabrielle DiSalvo

When considering the catastrophic effects of a network outage, investing in a Disaster Recovery Plan is crucial to any organization.

Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) methods can vary depending on the industry and business model. Overall, having a DRP means preparing your network, both its transmission and storage of data, for any type of damage or outage. Companies that rely on the Internet for operating their business should consider their options for disaster recovery when assembling their network. Taking the time to establish a plan can help keep networks up and running while also avoiding a loss of profit. Here are 5 network threats to prepare for in your disaster recovery plan:

1. Naturally occurring environmental disasters:

Forest fires, floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes can cause damage to a data center’s structure, affect its climate control, and cut access to its power source

2. Damage to Critical Infrastructure:

Failure of transportation infrastructure, such as the collapse of a bridge, that directly supports a network path can affect connectivity

3. Breach in Security:

Data can be compromised or stolen by hackers or malware2

4. Compromised Data Path:

Damage to equipment that facilitates data transference or storage

5. Unforeseen Events

Accidental cuts during construction, intentional vandalism, or animals chewing through cables

What can happen when operating without a DRP?

Tragic events in recent history that depict the need for a disaster recovery plan are the CSX Baltimore Tunnel Fire in 2001 and the terror attacks on the World Trade Center in NYC on September, 11th of the same year.* Effects of having a compromised network with no DRP are:

  • Permanent data loss
    • When a company forgoes data storage in a geographically different location, any instance where the site is totally destroyed results in complete loss of company-wide data: research, employee records, customer information, investor documentation, etc.
  • Corporate and residential network outage
    • If the location of the damage represents a single point of failure for multiple service providers (like the Baltimore Tunnel) this leads to outages across multiple networks and effects many customers. This halts nearly everyone’s ability to carry on with required daily tasks.
  • Irreversible loss in profit
    • For any organization, especially financial institutions, being unable to access data in real time, communicate with customers, monitor competitors, and make transactions can lead to critical profit loss when they lack the ability to recover quickly

*As an organization whose founders were personally impacted by these events, we recognize and have felt the devastating effects they have had on our country.

To combat destructive data loss, United Fiber & Data set out to construct a purpose-built fiber-optic line that connects the financial epicenter of the country (New York City) to one of the largest data center hubs in the world (Ashburn, VA). Our mission is driven by the need for an ideal Disaster Recovery Plan, which incorporates an alternative network and data storage solution. One straight forward, yet sometimes overlooked solution, is creating a geographically diverse network: this ensures the survival of a network, and in some cases the survival of the organization itself. In the event of damage to one or more aspects of the network, our alternatives would continue to carry the operations of the company.2

UFD’s alternative path:

  • Greenfield build
  • Diverse from the traditional route along I-95
  • Bypassing major cities to avoid single points of failure
  • Majority of the fiber laid along rural areas of PA:
    • Easily accessible for repair
    • Lower cost to maintain
    • Westerly route avoids hurricane zone
    • Less threats from National Security related issues