by May 5, 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 to the next target, before they caught him. This was something he had fine-tuned as a 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 doubled in the last five years. Sampath had come on board two years ago, and had ensured that the IT infrastructure kept pace. 

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

43 offices, out of which 22 were in small towns. These 22 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. Also, 15 larger sales offices reported into the zonal headquarters. These had a maximum of 10 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 and provided administrative, HR and accounting support. With about 25 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 taken once a week with a copy going to HO. HO was another 50 people and four servers, including one gateway/firewall/mail server. Backup was 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 50 PCs and four 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.

What Sampath and his team were figuring out was if there was a nasty surprise waiting in those hard disks and DAT tapes?

What were the likely points of failure? How could they make the storage and backup management better?

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