by April 3, 2003 0 comments

Sampath Kumar preferred to attack before the going became tough. And he liked to choose his point of attack, subduing one, and moving on to the next target, before they caught him. This was something he had fine-tuned as a somewhat burly youngster at the kabaddi fields back home. Those days of freewheeling kabaddi were over, but as the CTO of the Shelvam group of companies, he used very much the same strategy to keep the IT infrastructure humming.

Despite the downturn, the group had grown fast and as the Chairman liked to put it, every thing, turn over, profits, products, number of employees and offices had all doubled in the last five years. Sampath had come on board two years back, and had ensured that the IT infrastructure kept pace, if not ahead of the race. 

He had chosen his target for the next assault–groupwide storage and backup management and had called in his core team.

The network maps and the numbers were in front of them. All storage was on local hard disks on the PCs or the servers. All back up for serves was currently on DAT drives, installed locally. 

43 offices, out of which 22 were in small towns. These twenty-two had a maximum of just three PCs, one being dedicated for sales accounting. Data back-up was done locally on floppies, with the accounts back-up being sent once a week over dial-up Internet to the five zonal headquarters. Fifteen larger sales offices also reported into the zonal headquarters. These had a maximum of ten PCs with a local server. Backup of the server was done locally on DAT. The Individual PCs were not currently backed up. The zonal head quarters handled sales and marketing for the region, as well as provided administrative, HR and accounting support. Something was always happening there, and with about twenty-five people in each zonal headquarters, the IT infrastructure was also fairly robust, with two to three servers in each office, and leased connections to HO and factories. Backups were again taken once a week with a copy of the back-up going to HO. HO was another fifty people and four servers, including one gateway/firewall /mail server. Backup was again like at the zonal head quarters, with a copy going to Sampath’s home.

That left the three plants and the five godowns. The plants were at par with or even better than the HO as far as IT went, with about fifty PCs and four fairly robust servers with oodles of hard disks each. Backup at the plants were taken daily. In comparison, the godowns were skimpy, with only two PCs each for data entry.

And what Sampath and his team was trying to figure out was whether there was a nasty surprise waiting somewhere in all those hard disks and DAT tapes? What were the likely points of failure to be guarded against? How could they make the whole storage and backup management better.

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