Q9 adds global redundancy service in wake of blackout

Q9 Networks Inc. is preparing for a crisis more crippling than a city-wide blackout.

The hosting company relied on its diesel generators to supply its Toronto data centre power during the Aug. 14 blackout that struck parts of Ontario and the Eastern Seaboard. This week Q9 announced the availability of a service that would guarantee uptime to its Web-hosting customers by drawing on the power of its main centre in Toronto and second site in Calgary.

Q9’s Global Redundancy Service is a DNS-based fail-over service that will route traffic to one site should the other fail entirely.

The announcement is timely following the power loss six weeks ago, but Q9 CEO Osama Arafat said that it had been in the works for several months.

“”There’s just been an increased attention on the last couple of years on disaster recovery in business continuity plans. The customers who rely on us for various other infrastructures — whether it’s firewalls, load balances or co-location or bandwidth — were asking if we could provide this service,”” he said.

There’s a growing awareness of the need for multiple hosting sites, said Venky Srinivasan, director of technology for Toronto-based law firm Stikeman Elliott LLP. Stikeman currently uses Q9 for Web hosting and as its Internet gateway, but the firm is considering using a third party host for more of its systems and data — particularly as Stikeman evolves into a 24/7 business.

“”Things are evolving so fast, especially since the last blackout, that we are looking at such an arrangement. We’re not turning our back like we were before, saying, ‘Oh, we’re a law firm, we simply can’t have that,'”” said Srinivasan.

The Ontario blackout alerted many businesses to the fact that uptime isn’t something that can be taken for granted, said Yankee Group in Canada analyst Mark Quigley, based in Ottawa.

“”You can be certain in the next couple of months that everyone that’s going to (Q9) is going to be saying, ‘So, we know what you guys do. What happens if we get another power outage?'”” said Quigley. “”I think has become the next layer in that line of defence.””

The Q9 fail-over service is designed to handle blackouts or even worse disasters. Q9 can’t have a limitless supply of diesel on-hand should generators be necessary, noted Arafat.

“”We’re looking at something that’s an even bigger event,”” he added. “”There are other areas that no one can design against. For example, if there is a fire that consumes the entire building. This is something you really can’t do anything about.””

If Stikeman were to host more of its data or services outside of the firm, then the data centre””made redundant as much as possible,”” said Srinivasan. “”For sure it should be in a totally different power grid or maybe even outside of Canada. Maybe it should be in Europe.””

Arafat said he already has several customers signed onto the fail-over service, but they were not willing to be named for security reasons.

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