ISC   Information Support Concepts, Inc
A Certified Woman Owned Business Enterprise (WBE)

Issue 40

Publisher:  Jack Burlin                                Editor:  Nanci Kindle

October 3, 2008

IN THIS ISSUE
                          Your success story                Monthly featured product Kevinisms Trivia
Articles of Interest:  How Prepared Are You For A Disaster? The Death of TQM
Back to ISC Main Page

Your Success Story

 I was very surprised to get a call back from your salesman inquiring about the order I placed for mounting rack shelves.  After describing my needs to him, he proposed I use a different style of shelves at a lower cost.  Then he called within 3 working days to ensure that the shelves were delivered.  The shelves were perfect for my needs.  I have never received such service as I did with ISC.  I will be a returning customer.
 
A Happy Customer
Siemens

Monthly Featured Product

                              


 

 

The Four-Post Adjustable Racks
come in 19" and 23" rack widths
and with either square or tapped holes.

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Information Support Concepts (ISC) has discontinued the monthly product special. Since we are now running weekly specials with much deeper discounts, it made sense for the monthly special to be replaced.  We will now have a featured product each month, and direct our customers back to the weekly special for discounted items.

You can click on this link to see the current weekly product special! 

ISC offers a four-post adjustable rack that has some unique features not available in any other rack on the market.

  • Designed to accommodate Dell "Rapid Rails" which mount to the back side of both sets of vertical rails.  
  • Knock-down for ease of shipping
  • Easy to assemble
  • Most economical rack available
  • Acts as a basis for custom fixed depth racks

As always, ISC personnel are ready to answer your questions, and can confirm what product will work for your specific application. If you have a question, just call us at 800-458-6255.

How Prepared Are You For A Disaster?
Create A Plan Now To Prevent Scrambling In The Future

by Elizabeth Millard 

Everyone hopes to avoid car accidents, illness, and home break-ins, but they’re still aware that such incidents can happen, and most people load up on various forms of insurance to protect themselves just in case.

But when it comes to data centers, many IT managers don’t think about the same kind of protection for their equipment and data. Insurance policies may be in place in case of fire or flood, but those only cover the cost of replacing the machines; if there are no procedures for recovering data or getting employees back online quickly, the costs can be considerable.

Here are some steps for creating a surefire disaster recovery plan that can keep a data center safeor at least significantly insured from major losses.

Have You Done A Reality Check?

Just after Sept. 11, 2001, some companies began thinking about what might happen in the event of other terrorist attacks, but enterprises need to expand their view of what constitutes disaster, says Paul Henry, technology evangelist at Secure Computing. “Disaster comes in many forms, from fires and tornadoes to data breaches to missing laptops,” he notes. The data leak problem in particular should be part of every disaster plan, he advises. The loss of notebook computers with customer information, or a hack that captures financial information of clients, can be just as devastating as any hurricane.

“Very few organizations have plans that include how to deal with data loss,” says Henry. “For small to midsized enterprises, I think they need to reassess how they’re storing information and whether what they’re keeping really needs to be stored.”

To determine disaster preparedness, run through a few scenarios, even if it’s informally, suggests Henry. Gather staff members from both IT and other relevant departments and take a hard look at what kind of data is being put into the system and what the effect would be if it were to be breached.

Henry says a common scenario is an unsecured HR database, which has all the information needed for identity theft of all employees. He suggests full volume encryption but also discussing how data is stored in different parts of the company. A crucial first step is knowing what needs to be recovered but also making sure sensitive information isn’t being captured unnecessarily.

Find out, too, which business applications are especially needed. Every company has different requirements when it comes to frequently used software, so getting thoughts from other department heads is useful when putting a recovery plan together.

Also vital is to consider the loss of equipment. If the entire data center were to blow away tonight in a tornado, what would happen? How quickly could a company get back up and running?

Who’s On Speed Dial?

Once an enterprise is aware of the risks to the company’s equipment and data, it’s time to put together a phone list, says Henry. Although it might seem minor, he’s seen companies lose valuable hours in the past because IT managers didn’t have the home numbers of relevant executives or contact info for the company attorney. “Sometimes, in the case of something like a data breach, you have to make a decision right away about whether certain laws apply, so you need the number of the attorney,” he says.

Emergency numbers should be given out to employees. Night security personnel should have the IT manager’s home number in case of fire, theft, or other disaster. “Don’t underestimate this aspect of disaster recovery planning,” says Henry. “Lack of communication can cause significant delays, and as IT knows, every minute counts.”

How Warm Are You?

When it comes to equipment, an SME should think in advance about what might make sense for recovery, says Hunter Bennett, director of data center solutions at Ensynch, a provider of IT infrastructure services. Companies can have a plan in place that ranges from creating a cold site, where an offsite location has an array of hardware that can be lit up if needed, to a hot site, where the cutover process is fairly automated and can be done in minutes. Enterprises that use hot sites are usually those with the least amount of tolerance for downtime, says Bennett. (See box at right for determining your risk.)  Although this is the ideal for disaster preparedness, it’s also the most expensive because it basically involves running two data centers simultaneously.

Many SMEs might opt instead for a warm site, where the equipment in another location is lit up and ready to go but still requires some manual intervention to replace a company’s data center, notes Bennett. “With a warm site, you can be back up in a matter of hours, as long as you can get the IT team there to do it effectively,” he says. “With a cold site, it can be a matter of days.”

Another important part of the plan is setting regular intervals for testing the recovery procedures. Bennett suggests a step-by-step recovery manual. “Some companies feel like they don’t have the money for a true disaster recovery solution, but it’s not as expensive as they think to have core, critical procedures.”
 

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Kevinisms

A Kevinism is a funny or intriguing statement or idea from our Vice President of Sales, Kevin Hunt.  Kevin is a big fan of Sandra Bullock, Pizza Inn black olive pizza, The Washington Redskins, and Dr. Pepper (not necessarily in that order).  He is not a big fan of Chinese food, seafood, or other types of "dead" stuff.

Kevin prides himself on having a way with words.  Sometimes this does not work out so well, as has been documented numerous times in this column.  One way Kevin likes to play around with words is to come up with a new name for whatever restaurant we happen to be visiting for lunch on a particular day.  He has come up with quite a few good and challenging ones over the years.  An example is Sunny Pine when he was really talking about the Shady Oak (a barbeque restaurant).

However, lately Kevin seems to just be phoning it in.  The names have not been very challenging.  For example, he has recently used both Cotton Patche` (pronounced with a French accent) and Cotton Swatch as synonyms for the Cotton Patch restaurant.  He has used Hotties instead of Chilis, and probably the worst was Chipo Salsa for Nelda's, which is the Mexican restaurant we go to.

I pointed this out to Kevin, and Robin agreed that he was not really being very imaginative.  Kevin had the nerve to get insulted, and even got a little angry at us as we started to catalog the list of weak attempts.  He finally got flustered enough to say, "Well, you know, I don't just make them up!"  So evidently he has even lost sight of that key point.  He DOES just make them up.

 

ISC offers LAN RACKS to help
organize and protect your network
components!

Don't put your hardware in danger!
Call the Rackmount Ranger!
800-458-6255.

 

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Determining Your Risk


Being prepared for a disaster involves assessing your enterprise’s actual risk. Here are some factors to consider when determining what protections should be in place:

• Think about regional weather patterns and natural disasters: hurricanes along the Gulf Coast, droughts that tax electrical systems in the desert regions, tornadoes and blizzards in the Midwest, flooding in many parts of the countryevery area has its particular nuances.

• Look at the company’s history in terms of electrical outages and other resource allocation issues that external factors cause.

• Determine physical security levels: Could someone just walk into the data center and take a server?

• Examine power generation devices and test whether a long blackout of at least a few days would affect the company.

 

The Death of TQM

Does anyone remember Total Quality Management (TQM)?  Back in the early 90’s it was supposed to be one of the most highly rated models for running a business.  Its key features were continuous improvement and pushing decision making down to the lowest reasonable level.  TQM morphed into Six Sigma and other models, but what really spelled the death of TQM as a viable model was its adoption by General Dynamics.  Most people don’t know that General Dynamics killed TQM.

In 1990 the new CEO of General Dynamics launched a number of initiatives.  The major one was TQM.  The purpose was to improve the way the corporation operated and to minimize situations where people at higher levels in the organization made decisions with too much distance between themselves and the effects of their decisions.  TQM said the decisions should be made at a level that was directly influenced by and more fully knowledgeable of question being decided.

TQM had some other interesting aspects to it, including things like Mission Statements, multi-discipline work groups, etc.  In late 1990 every manager in General Dynamics took a two-day training course in TQM.  These courses were held off-campus and probably cost the corporation over a million dollars.  However, our corporate leadership said they were behind TQM 100%, and wanted everyone to start using the techniques, so they were not afraid to spend the money.  They expected there would be a payoff down the road.

One technique of TQM was to examine the processes of the organization and come up with better ways to do things.  This was accomplished by creating a team of people from multiple disciplines (like engineering, purchasing, marketing, etc.).  The idea was that processes in certain parts of the company could be reviewed by people outside that area and fresh ideas could be applied.

A team of 30 people from different areas was assembled at General Dynamics to review the multi-million dollar purchasing approval system the corporation used.  The feeling was that many decisions could be made at departmental or division level rather than at the corporate level.  These 30 people worked for two months to come up with a recommendation.  They had their own dedicated offices where the team met for discussions and had administrative support normally assigned to other departments.  Even working half-days as they did (with the other time spent in their regular jobs), they put in approximately 5000 man-hours on this issue.

When finished, the report concluded that for purchases under a certain amount, the authority should reside at the division level rather than at the corporate level.  The cost savings of instituting the change was significant, and everyone felt the TQM methodology had proven itself well in this first effort.

When the report made it up to the CEO, he proved his true opinion of TQM by denying the recommendation.  It is reported he said, “No, we’re not going to do that.”

Naturally, there was an immediate loss of enthusiasm for TQM.  No one was interested in participating in work groups where you would waste two months of your time only to have the well reasoned and fully documented recommendation rejected out of hand.

Ultimately, the death of TQM was caused by “talking the talk” and failing to “walk the walk.” 

When your corporate leadership lies to you, they can’t expect you to be enthusiastic about their pet program. 

 Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this month's newsletter. 
Please direct your comments to Jack Burlin.

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Trivia Question

Here is a question submitted by a newsletter reader.   Greg Sikosek is a Supplier Diversity Advocate with Raytheon, and a recognized trivia expert.

Q:  What does the name "Raytheon" mean, translated literally from Greek?"    

All correct answers will be placed into a pool for a random drawing at the end of the month.  The winner will receive a free laptop cooler, plus free ground shipping. Send your answers to: Jack Burlin

See next month's newsletter for the winner and the correct answer.

Answer from September's Newsletter.

Q:  What character's catch phrase was, "Well isn't that special?" 

 A:  The "Church Lady" played by Dana Carvey.

The winner was Paula Bowie (first time respondent).  Congratulations!

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Information Support Concepts, Inc.

Mansfield, Texas
ISC   Information Support Concepts, Inc