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Opcon Experience with Power Outage

August 30, 2016

We maintained services for the full 38 hours and learned some things that will help improve our "Op Con" Plan.

When the power was disrupted for over two hours last week, UMD had a mostly positive experience with technology. This is due to Operational Continuity planning.

Once concerns about personal safety have been identified and mitigated, the next obligation for an IT (Information Technology) organization is to make sure that we can maintain and/or restore critical services so that the campus can operate as close to normal throughout or quickly following an emergency.

Yearly Operational Continuity Exercises

To that end, ITSS conducts yearly Operational Continuity (Op Con) exercises both within the department and with the broader campus community. Over the past ten years we have imagined our response to:

  • Floods
  • Fire
  • Tornadoes
  • Virus outbreaks (both biological and electronic)
  • Many other catastrophes

Each time we go through such an exercise, we modify our ITSS Op Con Plans to maintain or restore services and fine tune our ability to respond.

Results From Exercises

As a result of these planning exercises, when the power was disrupted for over two hours last week, we had a mostly positive experience with our technology. Wherever we have newer buildings and newer renovations, ITSS has been able to add uninterrupted power sources (UPS) that will maintain steady power to things like network resources and server rooms. Additionally, we have been able to connect to backup generators in many buildings.

Results From Infrastructure Investments

As a result of these infrastructure investments, much of the core wired and wireless network on campus continued to function normally throughout the entire power outage. All of our servers maintained services, so our remote clients like Glensheen and the Natural Resources Research Institute had continued phone, network, and application services. Where emergency lighting or natural lighting and wireless network coincided in many places on campus, anyone with a laptop or mobile device on battery power was able to continue working during the power outage.

Operational Continuity Plan

We have a plan in place to continue improving our operations during power outages. We will also continue preparing technology support and restoration plans for other types of emergencies.

Feedback

Your feedback is welcome. Contact the Helpdesk at 218-726-8847 or email itsshelp@d.umn.edu.

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