Business Continuity on a Massive ScaleBy Pedro Hernandez
August 30, 2006
Business continuity ranks high for many organizations, even those outside the flood and hurricane prone parts of the United States. Often viewed as the pleasant, though frigid land to the north, Canada gets its share of weather-related and man-made events that can put businesses at risk.
Canadian technology reseller and IT services provider HyperTec counts among its offerings one-stop, full-service business continuity and disaster recovery packages. Case in point, 600,000 square feet ready to accommodate displaced companies in a setup described as the "largest in North America," according to HyperTec's Jean Lavoie, vice president of sales for the BCDR division.
Nestled in the old Nortel Building in Montreal, HyperTec's BCDR unit can support businesses of all sizes, and not just their data centers. The firm can accommodate 3,500 seats, split among reserved and shared varieties, complete with conference areas and most of the trappings of an office environment.
The IT side of the equation calls for features that rival or exceed the capabilities of most companies. First, there's the matter of electricity. HyperTec, in short, generates its own.
With seven generators on hand, operations are "totally autonomous of Hydro-Québec," says Lavoie, the region's electricity supplier. They each produce 2.2 megawatts of power with enough diesel capacity - 250,000 liters - to last 5 days if the local power grid affected for extended periods.
The company can also handle "large installations in a huge datacenter." This 25,000 square foot facility is Tier IV compliant, with 36-inch raised floors and a fully redundant network. Tier IV describes a fault tolerant design that delivers uptime nearing the vaulted "five-nines." The Uptime Institute defines Tier IV -- the top rating following I, II and III -- as a data center infrastructure that achieves 99.995 percent average uptime over 5 years.
Lavoie states that HyperTech has gone to such extremes to provide "full redundancy for our clients," most of which "cannot have any downtime." Indeed, depending on the industry in which they operate, some clients are bound by regulations and data security requirements, to carry those safeguards to their current operating environment.
HyperTec also manages a second, 45,000 square foot site located in Quebec with 2,500 square feet dedicated to its data center.
To help maintain the massive IT operation, the firm went with Cittio's WatchTower "to manage our servers and control everything in our managed services."
WatchTower, Cittio's network monitoring platform, provides performance and bandwidth reporting of a network and all of its resident systems, including servers and IP devices such as VoIP handsets and IP cameras. Last year, the company began offering multi-tenancy support for hosted environments. For HyperTec, monitoring its networks also includes hosted backup and on-demand server offerings.
For the time being, HyperTec BCDR is focused on providing Canada and its businesses with a safe haven from any disaster that may befall them, and it appears to suit all involved just fine. Sure, there is that home field advantage, but there also exist factors keeping many Canadian firms from looking south of the border.
Rules governing data privacy vary between nations, and as such, many firms are sidestepping issues that may result from hosting customer data in the U.S. currently. "A lot of Canadian companies have a problem with the Patriot Act," admits Lavoie.
Moreover, they are unwilling to risk running afoul of local laws, both already on the books and some proposed, that may conflict if another nation requests data that belongs to one of its citizens. With HyperTec, it's a non-issue.
For the firm, the next several months will be busy ones. An additional site is planned for Toronto, which goes online in late 2006. In 2007, HyperTec hopes to cut the ribbon on locations in Halifax and Calgary.