ICT, PROCUREMENT AND ASSET MANAGEMENT 18 APRIL 2008 SUB-COMMITTEE DISASTER RECOVERY/CONTINGENCY PLANNING

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1 ICT, PROCUREMENT AND ASSET MANAGEMENT 18 APRIL 2008 SUB-COMMITTEE DISASTER RECOVERY/CONTINGENCY PLANNING Report by Director of Finance and Corporate Resources PURPOSE OF REPORT To bring before the Sub-Committee proposals for an upgraded Disaster Recovery plan for critical IT systems. COMPETENCE 1.1 There are no legal, financial or other constraints to the recommendations being implemented. The Capital Plan includes provision for Disaster Recovery in the core and statutory programme. SUMMARY 2.1 In light of the shortcomings of the current Disaster Recovery (DR) arrangements, the Comhairle has agreed to provide capital funding towards the setting up of a local Disaster Recovery facility. This site will contain standby equipment to which data would be backed up each night and would be capable of running all critical systems. Should a serious failure occur at the primary site, users would be "failed over" to the standby facility. This fail over would be achievable within a 24 hour period. 2.2 Initial contact has also been made with external agencies such as the local NHS, HHP and the UHI. The general view is that these organisations seem very interested in sharing a local recovery facility for their key systems and it is hoped that revenue funding to support the operation can be generated from this source, along with savings from the current contract. 2.3 The essence of creating a suitable Disaster Recovery plan is that the solution is proportionate to the risk. Therefore, the main feature of the new approach is to look at addressing what are considered to be the main threats to the Comhairle s computer systems. These have been identified as fire and flood and, although major catastrophes can occur, they do so infrequently and the contingencies that are put in place have to be evaluated within this context. 2.4 The key cost factor in the plan is the fibre optic link between the Sandwick Road site and a suitable DR facility. The longer the link the more expensive the option and it is estimated that a 1Km link would cost in the region of 80,000, simply to lay the required fibre. 2.5 Therefore, after further investigation of appropriate sites, it became apparent that the only site which fitted the requirement was the space in the James Street office which will be vacated after the Procurement Section move to Sandwick Road. This site has the advantage of being far enough away from the main building to preserve it in the event of fire or flood at Sandwick Road and close enough to make the fibre connection feasible within the available budget. 2.6 Therefore it is proposed that a new Disaster Recovery Plan is drawn up based on having a suitable facility at James Street with additional off-site storage to cater for a major disaster. RECOMMENDATIONS 3.1 It is recommended that the Sub-Committee agree to the proposals outlined in the Report and that a further Report, detailing the plan be brought before the Sub-Committee for approval. Contact Officer: Angus Macarthur, Tel:

2 BACKGROUND 4.1 Over the years the Comhairle s approach to Disaster Recovery has been modelled on traditional IT lines. However this approach is no longer suitable for a modern IT environment and has substantial problems associated with it, not the least of which are the excessive time for recovery of key systems and the fact that not all critical systems are included in the plan. 4.2 However, this approach is no longer adequate to protect the Comhairle in the event of a disaster at the central processing facilities. Substantial change in the amount and complexity of central systems, along with changes in technology has meant that it is now necessary to take a fresh look at this key area with a view to putting in place more appropriate arrangements. 4.3 The Comhairle has a number of IT systems that are critical to the operation of the Comhairle. Therefore it is vital to have in place an adequate plan to recover these systems should a disaster occur at the central site. A project such as this involves a wide range of practical considerations ranging from identification and sourcing of appropriate premises, procuring the necessary hardware and software, adding the new site to the existing network and implementing procedures to allow for the site to be brought into use at very short notice. 4.4 The principal systems are Payroll/HR, Social Work, CashDesk, Planning, FMS, Council Tax and Housing Benefits. In addition to these, e- mail capability as well as internet access is also relied upon in order for staff to effectively carry out their duties. 4.5 At present these systems are housed in a single server room within the Comhairle's main building in Stornoway. Whilst there are Disaster Recovery procedures in place, these procedures involve shipping servers several hundred miles from a supplier in Hertfordshire followed by reinstalling all software applications before finally restoring the most recent backups. Assuming no technical problems, this would be a difficult and lengthy process at best and could take several weeks to successfully implement. Furthermore, it does not take account of all systems which could now be considered critical to the business. 4.6 In light of the difficulties and shortcomings associated with the current DR arrangements, the Comhairle has agreed to provide capital funding towards the setting up of a local Disaster Recovery facility. This DR site will contain standby equipment capable of running all critical systems. These standby servers will be kept up to date with the live server by way of a high bandwidth link. Should a serious failure occur at the primary site, users would be "failed over" to the standby facility. This failover would be achievable within a 24 hour period. DISASTER SCENARIOS 5.1 Clearly disasters can take many forms, ranging from major catastrophes spread over large geographical areas that directly affect the lives and livelihoods of many people, to localised disasters such as building fire or water damage that causes serious damage to key infrastructure that is required for service provision. 5.2 Historically, major catastrophes occur on a very infrequent basis and the contingencies that are put in place to take account of them have to be evaluated within this context. 5.3 On the other hand, localised disasters that can disrupt an organisations service provision can occur without warning and at any time and have to be considered as a realistic threat. 5.4 Resources that are directed towards an organisation's Disaster Recovery Plan should therefore be clearly targeted at speed of recovery in the event of the most probable type of events. A prudent Disaster Recovery strategy will however also incorporate contingencies to minimise permanent loss of core assets should a more serious disaster occur.

3 KEY ISSUES TO CONSIDER 6.1 Location Options The identification of suitable premises for the DR site is fundamental to the success of the project. As the DR site has to be kept "in sync" with the primary site it is essential that the two sites are connected by a high bandwidth fibre channel. The distance between the two sites is therefore an important consideration. As the purpose of the DR site is to take over should some kind of disaster occur at the primary site, it is important that two sites are physically separated by a reasonable distance. Otherwise both sites could be disrupted by the same event. The distance that is deemed to be "reasonable" is determined, to a large extent, by the cost of laying down fibre which clearly increases with increasing distance. 6.2 The following section looks at three different options to consider, setting out the advantages and disadvantages of each one. OPTION 1 - Marybank Advantages - Built to meet requirements therefore no need for modifications. New build, purpose built DR facility capable of co-hosting servers for numerous clients. Scalable Sufficient distance from HQ to guard against both facilities being affected by same event Disadvantages - No identifiable sites available. Cost outwith existing budget Purchase of site still to be identified /purchased Cost of new build, (approx 100K) Cost of laying fibre to Marybank 80 per meter) approx 3000 meters = 240K. OPTION 2 - James Street (ground floor currently used by Procurement) Advantages Already owned by Comhairle Available fairly soon Building requiring relatively minor modifications Adequate distance from primary site to provide DR but close enough that cost of laying fibre is not prohibitive Could be fibre linked to Connected Communities Hub thereby providing full resilience to the rest of the offices/schools in the Western Isles should the primary site be unavailable. Adequate size to host Comhairle servers and provide co-location facility Disadvantages A critical disaster could potentially affect the primary and the DR site simultaneously. Even though the probability of this scale of event is remote, it would be prudent to have a contingency plan in place for this possibility (offsite backups for critical system rebuild - insurance) Some modifications would be required to the interior of the building to provide adequate security and environmental conditions for the equipment.

4 OPTION 3 - Westview Terrace Advantages Sufficient distance from HQ to guard against both facilities being simultaneously affected by a major disaster. Disadvantages Cost of purchase No identifiable sites available. Significant upgrading required, Cost of laying fibre estimated to be in the region of 100,000. Other options considered The huts currently used by IT and Training substantial building works required Old Gibson Building - building to be demolished, substantial lead time and no guarantee that it would be available. Matheson Hall - not available Stornoway Primary - No site identified, school site unsuitable. Faire/Dun Eisdean No space available. Basement of Springfield South inadequate Classroom in Springfield South school site unsuitable, proximity to active classrooms and general school activity. Glean Seileach Business Park cost of laying fibre, rental cost of building, availability of site. New Build - Substantial initial cost to build a suitable facility. 6.3 Appointment of Project Officer In order to manage the project effectively it will be necessary to appoint a project manager with an understanding of the key elements of disaster recovery and with the appropriate technical background, especially in Oracle. The key features of the post would be: Project Manage the setting up and implementation of a new DR facility. Implement Oracle High Availability architecture Take a lead role in facilitating / coordinating / introduction of new hardware and/or software to support an agreed Disaster Recovery requirement. Ensure that the DR facility is adequately protected with appropriate security arrangements and that the environmental conditions of the facility are properly maintained and managed. Co-ordinate Disaster Recovery testing activities and ensure that the new procedures are fully verified. Liaising with key internal stakeholders. Liaising with external agencies to encourage use of the facility. Design and deliver key initiatives to improving Disaster Recovery provisions. Ensure Disaster Recovery procedures and their invocation plans are well documented and that procedures are in place to ensure they are kept up to date. Ensure that these plans are fully tested and that procedures are in place to test them on a regular basis. It is proposed that funding for this fixed term post be made available from the capital funding that has been put aside for the project.

5 6.4 Phased Approach In order to manage the installation and to test the individual parts of the plan, it is proposed that the project be split into two phases: Phase 1 Phase 2 Backup directly to remote Storage Area Network (SAN). Backups subsequently written from SAN to tape. Tapes then stored off-site. DR site equipped with replicating servers. Oracle databases directly replicated over the DR link. The completion of this phase would then provide a comprehensive backup and recovery facility that would immediately provide instant failover in the event of a disaster at the central site. FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS 7.1 The current Disaster Recovery arrangements cost in the region of 12K per annum for a service which is no longer considered adequate for the Comhairle s needs. It is proposed that the costs associated with the current plan be used to fund the ongoing costs of the new proposal. 7.2 Furthermore, it is hoped that ongoing revenue support may be generated from other external agencies who have expressed an interest in making use of this facility. CONCLUSION 8.1 In essence then, although the various location options all have different advantages, the James Street option is most suitable because: a) It is the most appropriate response to the most likely risks the response is proportionate to the level of risk. b) Cost of laying fibre increases substantially the further away from Sandwick Road. c) No other suitable building has been identified outwith James Street. d) Cost of new build is excessive,. 8.2 It is important to note that not only does this proposal take account of likely risk but also will make provision for a major catastrophe by ensuring that data that is backed up to the James Street site will be written to tape and stored at a further off-site location. 8.3 Therefore, the principles of a new Disaster Recovery Plan should include James Street as the preferred location, the appointment of a dedicated Project Manager for the duration of the project, the installation of a suitable network link between the primary and DR locations and a phased approach to the implementation NETWORK DESIGN 9.1 The following diagram shows the proposed configuration:

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