Preventing Communications Blackouts

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print


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Worms, viruses, cyber-attacks and physical sabotage demonstrate that now is the time to secure IT assets and plan for contingencies.


Communications blackouts are a little harder to combat, but the technology is available to minimize the risk presented by a single point of failure, such as the cut fiber-optic cables in Silicon Valley. Businesses need to consider how they are connected to the outside world—that means understanding the infrastructure your bandwidth provider employs and identifying where single points of failure can occur.

Currently, failover technology is the best bet for keeping communications lines open—here, a business can turn to broadband satellite technology to reroute traffic in case of a primary communications link failure, or, at the very least, sign with a secondary bandwidth provider that routes traffic differently than the primary provider—that should reduce some of the risk.

With the explosion of VOIP (voice over IP)-based communications and Web-enabled applications, maintaining that IP link to the world has become almost as critical as reliable electric service.

Power grid interruptions are perhaps the hardest emergency to deal with. After all, a power outage affects a lot more than just IT services. While having no electrical power is a major hindrance to any business, that is not the worst of it—sudden power loss or brownouts can damage electronics and scramble data.

To avoid those problems, businesses must invest in UPSes (uninterruptible power supplies), which provide enough juice to weather a brownout or at least provide enough time to perform an orderly shutdown of critical systems. UPSes prove to be cheap insurance against unexpected events. For businesses that cannot tolerate power outages, stand-by generators can bridge the gap and keep systems humming for an indefinite period of time.

For many, deploying all of those technologies would be overkill, but for some it may be a necessity. It all comes down to how resilient a business needs to be to weather these attacks—attacks that are only likely to increase in frequency and extent.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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