An Interview with Datagram COO, Mohammad Soliman:
How has the recovery come along at 33 Whitehall?
Very well so far. We are continuing to work closely with the building landlord. We are in the planning phase of moving the fuel tank, electrical feeders and electrical switchgear out of the building basement to the mezzanine level. Aside from all that, we are looking to setup a generator tap down at street level so that if we need to bring in a street generator we can easily get it connected. It would essentially be a secondary generator source wherein all the feeders to our data center are in place and an electrician can quickly tie in a street generator and energize the feeders to our datacenter.
You had mentioned work you are doing within the data center. What additional steps are you taking?
We are also further fortifying our own space in the data center by incorporating newer and more improved and more intelligent systems. For example, we are adding all new intelligent batteries for better monitoring of the battery systems. Our service processes worked well during Sandy, but there is always room for improvement and we are exploring that as well. We are always looking for ways to reduce the stress level when an issue does occur.
How do the batteries work?
They are batteries that are connected to a battery monitoring software. The software not only analyzes and reports on the health of each battery string, but does so on each individual battery. If the software identifies any change in the battery’s health (or battery string), it alerts our staff so that we can take proactive steps to mitigate a potential problem. It’s all about identifying break points long before they happen.
When do you expect all of this to be completed?
Well, we are hoping to get the required approvals and permits within the next couple of months so that work can commence within the second quarter, mid 2013 timeframe. The city has been helpful so far, and I think we can get most of our work done mid 2013. Although, the street tap is a bit of an unknown right now.
How is your NOC staffed?
Our Datagram NOC is 24x7 and staffed with Datagram employees. Every Datagram NOC engineer goes through comprehensive training in protocols, processes and review policies.
What is your definition of Disaster Recovery?
Disaster Recovery is more or less a process or restoration from any disruption of service. At Datagram, we can setup redundancy for customers across our data centers. And, where the primary environment is at a customer’s office, we can also provide a custom seamless failover to our datacenter. Given our expertise we have offered our customers help on how to set up and design their own disaster recovery, even if they are not using one of our facilities. We will advise on best practices and provide recommendation on how to setup within their own infrastructure.
How do you define Business Continuity?
Business Continuity is a higher, more sophisticated level of Disaster Recovery. BC refers to layers of redundancy within the systems themselves, so that a disruption is automatically averted.
I need a solid hosting solution. I can’t afford downtime, but I have a limited budget. What are my options?
What it comes down to is how involved your hosting is. Are you still in the development phase or in full production? Traffic origination also has an affect on the best geographic location for your environment. There are several variables we work with you on in determining a custom solution. There is no one solution. To try and answer your question, at a bare minimum, you need at least a dedicated virtual machine (or dedicated server) at two facilities with redundancy between the two servers. Syncing your data between the two locations keeps the data on both servers up to date and allows you stay online if one server or location fails.
What differentiates Datagram from others, such as big name hosting providers?
We work with our customers to develop a working solution for them instead of trying to fit them into a pre-defined, pre-set package that is often more than what the customer actually needs. We take the approach to understand fully the customer’s environment and how much traffic they get, and from where, before we actually make a recommendation. We offer a diverse set of services, including consultative services in designing the right environment for them. We load test the customer environment and work with them in creating efficiencies. We provide a custom solution that truly fits their needs.