Inside Canadian Blood Services’ risk management driven data center migration

EMPTY

|Sep 13|magazine6 min read

(Norwich, UK, 13/09/2019)

David Grant, Associate Director, Enterprise Services at Canadian Blood Services, discusses his role in the organization’s recently completed data center migration and ongoing digital transformation.

Data has become, in short, the lifeblood of the modern organization. However, in the past five years, the staggering speed at which IT advancements have swept across every industry has placed pressure on enterprises looking to house IT systems and data in onsite legacy infrastructure.

Canadian Blood Services has already taken steps over the last three years to improve its front end customer experience. However, as in most aspects of industry, Grant admits that the attention paid to upgrading systems at the front end had outstripped that which was paid to the internal workings of the organization.

In September 2018, while Canadian Blood Services were midway through their migration, an unprecedented total of six tornadoes swept across Ottawa and Quebec, causing damage in excess of $300mn and leaving hundreds of thousands of residents without power. “It was a timely reminder that the ongoing change in weather patterns we’ve seen over the past five to 10 years is going to continue, and having two data centers that were literally next door to one another was probably not a good idea,” says Grant.

“We realized that our data centers were both located in Ottawa – one in our HQ and one in a building that houses most of the IT team. The distance between the two buildings was less than four miles,” Grant says. “In terms of disaster recovery (DR), that’s basically next door to one another.”

“Our contingency at the time was a cold site about four hours to the south in an IBM data center. In the event of the loss of data centers in Ottawa, the DR strategy was to drive down there, collect the necessary hardware and then restore our systems from backup tapes. The estimated recovery time for an event like that was between one and six days,” Grant explains. “When you’re a digital business, being down or out for 24 hours is a major issue. Being out for five or six days – well, you’re lucky if you survive.”

The need for revision of Canadian Blood Services’ data center strategy was, to Grant, clear. Change, however, needed to be affected as safely as possible.

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