On Tuesday 26th, June, businesses and organisations in the Reading Abbey square faced temporary downtime when a power surge caused a power outage. At 8:26 am a report of a potential fire was made and three fire crews from Caversham Road, Dee Road and Wokingham Road were called to the scene.
Following a power surge early in the morning, there was a fault with equipment and power remained out for several hours. After around 55 minutes fire crews had completed checks, ensuring there was no fire. A representative from Scottish and Southern Electric stated:
“At around 08.30am this morning, a fault developed on a piece of our equipment at our substation which is located on Abbey Square. When a fault occurs, our safety equipment operates to turn the power off for the safety of our customers and also to protect the network; when it switches off the power, the switching motion can sometimes be heard as a loud bang by those nearby.”
The outage initially affected around 180 customers and local businesses were, for the most part, able to continue working by 11 am. One building remained without power and was later brought back online utilising mobile generators.
“On the rare occasions there is a power cut, our priority is to restore supplies as safely and as quickly as possible. On this occasion, our engineers were able to re-route a large number of the affected customers on to different parts of the network, and we have mobile generators on their way to help get the power back on for the remaining property.”
While the outage to power was only temporary and fairly minor it highlights the reliance on power for organisations to be able to operate. All aspects from phone lines to internet rely on this and for organisations, with no business continuity or disaster recovery plans this could spell disaster. The downtime caused by a major outage would likely be more than several hours and could come at great cost and disruption.
Leading by example
Implementing a best practice data management strategy to ensure protection against downtime and data loss requires detailed planning. Systems must be analysed, and a course of action decided on how best to recover from an outage or loss – different scenarios may require different actions to be taken. Recovery Time Objectives (RTO’s) and Recovery Point Objectives (RPO’s) must be established as part of a plan.
A Recovery Time Objective is the time limit set by an organisation to have recovered data and have systems running at a normal level, in the event of a disaster.
A Recovery Point Objective refers to the last available copy of data that can be recovered from and the maximum amount of time between backup points.
Business Continuity plans will focus on how quickly an organisation can continue operating and will often have an RPO of close to zero and an RTO often under an hour. Disaster Recovery aspects of a plan will usually highlight specific areas that need to be accessed or recovered first, these could be customer facing systems or operational systems.
Investment in equipment and systems is vital to a successful business continuity and disaster recovery plan but unlike traditional methods, no longer requires hardware. The rise of cloud means that there are many systems and methods available that can help an organisation instantly access data or information online. Hardware can present additional issues as a single point of failure could occur.