Last Friday, an electric equipment explosion in downtown Los Angeles left a dozen buildings without power, including the nearby Staples Center. While one of the buildings is home to professional sports teams, more importantly to us another building maintains one of our data centers. Throughout the loss of power, we continued to serve our customers.
The ability to provide services during power failures and network outages doesn’t happen by accident. It’s the result of tremendous effort by our team in the areas of planning, design, monitoring and maintenance of our systems. We’re prepared to deal with these incidents using redundancies and failover mechanisms we design into our systems. Last week we were put to the test, and passed.
When looking to outsource technology, schools and districts should ask questions around how the provider plans and reacts during a power outage, loss of network connectivity, component failure (e.g. server, hard drives, network equipment), fire, hurricane, earthquake, etc. Reducing the amount of disruption in services allows students to continue learning in new ways.
Here are three questions you should ask a prospective edtech provider regarding their levels of service:
Do you have high uptime goals even in cases of natural disasters?
Providing consistent and ongoing services to our customers requires us to think about the types of failures we could encounter and plan for ways to mitigate their impact. We also consider more severe outages and document our recovery processes in our “Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan.” This plan was one of many documents reviewed during our recent Service Organization Control 2 (SOC 2) audit.
Do you have redundancy in place to ensure you continue to provide services in case of a power failure, network outage or natural disaster?
After considering the types of failures we could encounter, we design our systems to minimize the impact caused by the failure and to help assure we provide service. Examples include backup power/generators, multiple network providers and fire suppression systems. It’s also important to discuss with any provider its Service Level Agreement (SLA). An SLA will include service standards and information about submitting a claim if you believe the provider is in violation of an agreed-upon level of service.
Do you monitor your systems and keep them up to date?
All of our systems require regular maintenance and updates to ensure they’re able to meet the demands placed on them. In addition, it’s important to regularly test failover capabilities to ensure they’re functioning properly. Failures often come without warning, and when we, and you, least like them to occur. Monitoring our systems closely allows us the earliest possible detection of problems so we can react quickly to resolve the issue.