Do You have a Disaster Recovery Site and Off-site backup for your institution?

  • Posted on: 20 July 2017
  • By: director
In April 2017, KENET conducted a survey of ICT directors of member universities / university colleges and among the questions we asked are the following:
  1. Does your institution have an ICT disaster management policy? Only 30 out of the 51 who responded said yes.
  2. Does your institution have off-site backup? Only 25 out of the 47 who answered the question stated that they had an off-site backup.
  3. Does your institution's main campus have a backup diesel generator? 6 out of the 51 universities that responded do NOT yet have a backup generator. We find that lack of backup power is one of the main cause of Internet downtimes. 
Our plan is to help any of our member institutions that do not yet have a fully-fledged disaster recovery site (or off-site backup at the minimum ) to setup one and also to develop an an institutional ICT disaster management policy. As you know, ICT disasters do happen even in the developed countries as the recent Wanacry Ransomware attack of hospitals in UK and universities in China has demonstrated (we have no known Ransomware attack among our members partly because we are not running the old Windows 8 software that was vulnerable and probably the effectiveness of our firewalls). 

KENET members have three main options for setting up and operating an ICT disaster recovery site:

  1. Replicate ICT infrastructure that supports information system at the main main campus (also called the primary site) at an offsite location (e.g., another one of your campuses or at KENET data center). This is called the secondary site. This solution has a relatively high one-off infrastructure cost but the recurrent costs are mainly the high-speed com munition costs between the primary and secondary location. The dedicated communication link attracts much lower recurrent cost compared to the Internet (e.g., $750 per 100 Mb/s link).  KENET has collocation space at USIU data center and at the new CUEA data center. 
  2. Lease all the infrastructure for the disaster recovery site from KENET. This includes what are called Virtual Private Services (also called Virtual Machines or VMs) and the associated storage. Institutions would then install the secondary information systems on the leased infrastructure. This solution also includes a high-speed dedicated communication  link that is used for replication or recovery of the data in the event of failure or to run the information the information system from the secondary site in case the primary site is off-line (e.g., scheduled maintenance or failure of hardware or another disaster ). The recurrent costs depend on the specifications of the Virtual Servers and the storage. This can be done within a period of one month after a signed commitment. This is the most common solution among the members. 
  3. The off-site data storage backup solution. This is simply leasing storage from KENET for the ERP data or any other critical data. The recurrent cost depends on storage capacity requested (it is about $100 per Terabyte of data or 1000 MB of storage space). In most cases, the storage is attached on a Virtual Machine. It is possible to use the existing Internet link for the backup, especially if done only at night. Note that this is not a fully-fledged disaster recovery solution but it offers the institutions a degree of protection against disasters. 

KENET has the data center space or community cloud infrastructure required for all of the three options. And most important, KENET would provide the dedicated high-speed links at the lowest cost in the market (communication costs attract a high recurrent costs and must be included in evaluating solutions offered by the external commercial cloud services or hosting services providers in Kenya (e.g., Safaricom) or external (Amazon Web services or Microsoft Azure or Google). 

Let us know of you plan to upgrade your disaster recovery site or to setting up a new disaster recovery site - our engineers will work with your ICT staff to establish the requirements and to implement it. This is one of the reasons KENET was setup, to reduce the cost of disaster recovery sites for our members through shared data center infrastructure and high-end ICT talent. 

Meoli Kashorda