You would have heard by now of the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand on Saturday. It was 7.1 on the Richter scale and remarkably – I would say miraculously – there have been no deaths directly from the earthquake reported so far. As the Sydney Morning Herald reports,
Haiti - which was hit by a strike-slip fault that caused a 7.0 magnitude quake last January - suffered the loss of at least 220,000 lives.
New Zealand, which also experienced a strike-slip fault between the Pacific plate to the east and the Australian plate to the west, recorded no fatalities.
Only two people were seriously injured.
Anywhere but here
Although Christchurch is the largest city on the South Island of New Zealand, from my experience, larger companies in NZ work primarily out of Auckland, the largest city in the North Island.
Very often NZ users connect to systems in Australia. Not too far away, as you can see on this map.
NZ is two hours ahead of Sydney, where we often host systems and arrange occasional outages with hopefully not too much inconvenience to the Kiwis. They don't complain too much anyway. This remote hosting of systems has been crucial for some insurance companies working out of Australia and New Zealand, especially in the aftermath of the earthquake. Thankfully, there have been no deaths directly from the earthquake, but infrastructure has been hit hard. In an event like that, you'd be glad to know a company's main systems, and a reliable DR, are far away from you ... and from each other.
Over 50 of the buildings in the Christchurch Central Business District have been substantially damaged. Roads are often unpassable, water and electricity is still sporadic. With all of these factors, when you want to place a call to get some help from your insurance company, you hope their systems are not down. If your city has been hit by an earthquake, it's good to know that your company's Production systems are hosted somewhere else. A Disaster Recovery plan may not even need to be implemented. You call your insurance company and a friendly Aussie voice on the other end will hopefully be there to say Good day ("g'day"), ready to listen and help.
Some insurance companies I have worked with have taken great advantage of virtualisation. Comms links being what they are these days, you can easily consolidate and virtualise your systems to work out of a different country. When you have to place that sad call to say your house or business premises were wiped out by an earthquake, it’s a great relief to know that the insurers' systems are on the other side of the Tasman Sea, or “across the drink”, as we say.
“Good as gold”
Sometimes the work we do on AIX systems doesn’t seem so important. When a tragedy like this occurs, we realise that the work we did retiring a standalone box in a remote location, or migrating that web server and database to newer hardware in a secure data centre – means that real people can start the business of rebuilding their lives a little more easily. You also understand why the DR centre had to be distant from the prod site.
My prayers go to the many people who will have to rebuild their lives after this tragedy. The habitual cheerfulness and resilience of the Kiwis makes them a delight to work with. I am sure it's what will carry them through following the earthquake. As they like to say in NZ, I hope that before too long everything will be “good as gold.”