Disaster recovery center focuses on network management

Canadian VAR HyperTec Group is building disaster recovery centers in Canada but needed a way to monitor and manage all networked services.

Building an immense business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) center is one heck of a responsibility, and HyperTec Group, a Canadian VAR, has taken that to the next level. It is building and managing a BCDR center in Montreal that can provide office space for 3,500 displaced workers and 40,000 feet of high availability, tier 4 data center.

Inside, HyperTec manages and monitors all of the servers, workstations and network switches to ensure that its guests have their networks up and running in any emergency, be it natural or manmade.

According to Bob Novek, vice president of infrastructures, building services and IT professional services for HyperTec, any company that comes to the facility knows how critical the network can be and can't risk any sort of downtime while getting back to business.

"They've seen the need that they can't afford to go down," he said, noting that HyperTec's disaster recovery center caters mostly to government, finance and insurance companies.

If a natural or manmade disaster, from hurricanes to terrorist attacks, were to hit, HyperTec's BCDR offers customers managed disaster recovery services, including a fully redundant network covering the U.S., Canada and Europe. In addition, it has an around-the-clock service center staffed by IT, high-capacity storage, power backup and other necessary services.

But when managing other companies' networks during a state of emergency, HyperTec is also charged with ensuring that everything stays up and running. According to HyperTec's president David Ahdoot, the VAR needed "a comprehensive process to measure and ensure our service levels for our business continuity and disaster recovery services."

In its network operations center (NOC), Novek said HyperTec deployed WatchTower, a network monitoring tool from Cittio Inc. According to Cittio, WatchTower is a network monitoring platform that provides performance and bandwidth reporting of the network and all of its systems including PCs, servers, IP devices like VoIP handsets and any other networked device.

WatchTower, he said, proactively monitors operations in the BCDR center and keeps HyperTec's IT staff and users up to date on the health of every system and application on the network.

Novek said he uses WatchTower to look for benign network problems, such as power supplies that are turned on or off and if there is enough toner in the printers. It can also be programmed to alert staff if the CPU is being used at 100%; if hard drives are full or not full; and if there are other errors brewing within the network.

"It has the flexibility to monitor, report and alert on dozens and dozens of criteria," he said.

Novek compared WatchTower to HP OpenView in its capabilities, but added that the auto-discovery functions and simple GUI make it easier to deploy and use than OpenView.

Right now, he said, the Montreal center is 75% to 80% online and should be completed in coming months. From there, more centers are planned in Quebec City and other locations throughout Canada.

"We're trying to provide a critical service," Novek said. "There's a tremendous need for BCDR services in Canada if a company's building is destroyed or rendered useless."

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