DON’T TRY AND MOVE A DATA CENTRE IN THREE MONTHS

Canadian Pacific almost tried, and it wouldn’t have worked. A pilot project to outsource its IT from facilities in Toronto and Calgary to a vendor backfired when they discovered older equipment needed spare parts and some servers shut down, never to come back online because they had not been rebooted in years. “We realized our expectations were unrealistic,” said Karim Mamdani, CP’s senior project manager. “So we came back to the steering committee and management and said this is not going to work, we need more money and more time. They revisited the business case and managed to release the funds.”

USE THE DOMINO EFFECT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE

When Rogers Retail decided to overhaul the systems for all 93 of its stores in a 24-hour period, it created “virtual” versions of the stores which were preconfigured with the new system. These “stores in a box” were then tested for four different store locations, including Toronto and Vancouver. Problems found in the first were ironed out in the next. “The project manager would document changes such that the third pilot would be virtually perfect and the fourth would be completely flawless,” said Greg Woods, a consultant who helped with the project, which was ultimately successful.

MAKE A TIMELINE FOR TESTING

IT managers are probably sick of hearing they should develop business continuity plans, but the hard part may be figuring out how often to test those plans. The standard seems to be a quarterly review of plans, and full walk-throughs once or twice a year. Ann Wyganowski, Toronto chapter president of the Disaster Recovery Information Exchange, said it depends partly on how critical your systems are. “It (also) depends on how often your environment changes,” she said.

PUT THE RECALL MONKEY ON THE VENDOR’S BACK

The City of Toronto proved the power of the fine print when it had to deal with faulty hard drives. Sending around IT staff for audits would have been a big money-waster, so instead it put a clause in contracts specifying that suppliers have to deal with replacements or repairs of defective products. “The vendor is also responsible for notifying us or reporting any defects requiring batch recall,” said John Davies, the city’s executive director of IT.



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