Internet Outage in Asia, Africa and Middle East
An astute reader, Andrea, asked me the following:
Are you covering the business impact of the internet failure across Asia, the Middle East and North Africa? The outage has brought business in those regions to a standstill. This disaster shines a direct spotlight on the vulnerability of technology and serves as a reminder of the ever increasing importance of protecting business critical information.
When I first heard of this outage, I am thinking, so a few million people don't have access to FaceBook and YouTube, what's the big deal? We in the U.S.A. are in the middle of a [Hollywood writer's strike] and don't have fresh new television sitcoms to watch! Yahoo News relays the typical government's response:[Egypt asks to stop film, MP3 downloads during Internet outage], presumably so that real business can take priority over what little bandwidth is still operational. Fellow IBM blogger "Turbo" Todd Watson pokes fun at this, in his post[Could Someone Please Get King Tutankhamun On The Phone?].Like us suffering here in America, perhaps our brothers and sisters in Egypt and India may getre-acquainted with the joys of reading books.
However, the [Internet Traffic Report-Asia] shows how this impacted various locations including: Shanghai, Mumbai, Tokyo, Tehran, and Singapore. In some cases, you have big delays in IP traffic, in other cases, complete packet loss, depending on where each country lies on the["axis of evil"].This is not something just affecting a few isolated areas, the impact is indeed worldwide. This would be a goodtime to talk about how computer signals are actually sent.
Wikipedia has a good article on [Submarine Communications Cable],including a discussion on how repairs are made when they get damaged or broken.It is important to remember that lost connectivity doesn't mean lost data, just lack of access to the data. Thedata is still there, you just can't get to it right now. For some businesses, that could be disruptive to actualoperations. In other cases, it means that backups or disk mirroring is suspended, so that you only have yourlocal copies of data until connectivity is resumed.
ABC News had this report:[Conspiracy theories emerge after internet cables cut]. Of course, Al Qaeda practiced their bombing skills in their own backyard, from embassies inAfrica to the [USS Cole], before taking it toNew York and Washington. Here's an excerpt:
When two cables in the Mediterranean were severed last week, it was put down to a mishap with a stray anchor.
It gets weirder. In his blog Rough Type, Nick Carr's[Who Cut the Cables?] reportsnow a fourth cable has been cut, in a different location than the other two cable locations. If the people cuttingthe cables are looking to see how much impact this would have, they will probably be disappointed. Nick Carrrelates how resilient the whole infrastructure turned out to be:
Though India initially lost as much as half of its Internet capacity on Wednesday, traffic was quickly rerouted and by the weekend the country was reported to have regained 90% of its usual capacity. The outage also reveals that the effects of such outages are anything but neutral; they vary widely depending on the size and resources of the user.
IBM does have a large outsourcing, help-desk and R&D presence in these areas. Al Jazeera reports[India wrestles with internet outage]:
Outsourcing firms, such as Infosys and Wipro, and US companies with significant back-office and research and development operations in India, such as IBM and Intel, said they were still trying to asses how their operations had been impacted, if at all.
Whether it is man-made or natural disaster, every business should have a business continuity plan. If you don't have one, or haven't evaluated it in a while, perhaps now is a good time to do that. IBM can help.