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Infrastructure and Disaster Recovery

August 25, 2011
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Bricks and mortar still matter in the IT world

I recently had an opportunity to speak with Charles E. Christian, CIO of Good Samaritan Hospital in Vicennes, Ind., regarding the steps his hospital is taking to prepare itself for natural disasters. Christian believes that old-fashioned brick-and-mortar infrastructure cannot be overlooked when planning for natural disasters.

Good Samaritan is located on a 100-year flood plain, in a part of a county affected by the confluence of two rivers. “We get high water every spring, like clockwork,” he says. Unfortunately, much of the hospital’s IT equipment and power equipment is vulnerable, because it is located in a part of the building known as “The Pit,” the lowest point in the facility.

Fortunately, the hospital is about to embark on a construction project to build a new patient tower; and will vacate much of the existing tower, which is 40 years old. When that happens, Christian will take over the third floor of the old tower and relocate the data center, which will be well above the flood plain. The construction project will also involve a new energy center that will house the energy equipment well above the flood plain as well.

Christian, who says he is something of an opportunist, says he started pitching the idea of relocating the data center when the construction project was given the green light. Ironically, he says, the fact that his department is presently located in the oldest building on the campus has helped, because the architects determined that rewiring and other renovations of the 100-year building would be too costly. So The Pit and its environs will be the site of a new parking lot, after the remaining tenants move out.

To be sure, Good Samaritan is taking a broad view of disaster recovery, of which its facility planning is just one small part. But it is an important piece that should not be overlooked when preparing for potential natural disasters such as floods. “When you start talking about disaster recovery, it’s much more than what happens in the data center,” Christian says. “It’s a facility thing.”

More on disaster recovery and business continuity will appear in the October issue of the magazine.

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