Firms get power warning


Firms get power warning

Antony Adshead

IT chiefs have been warned to ensure disaster recovery plans are in place in the run-up to winter following a warning that UK electricity generating capacity is at its lowest winter level since 1995.

The warning came after the National Grid submitted a report to utility watchdog Ofgem last week which said that only 17.7% of spare electricity generating capacity was available - this falls short of the target level of 20%.

IT departments were hit by power failures in August when parts of London and Birmingham suffered power cuts.

John Collins, an analyst with Quocirca, said, "Besides achieving graceful shutdown with a UPS [uninterruptible power supply] you need to pay attention to powering up. You cannot just power up a large number of computers without overloading the electrical supply. Once they are powered up, you need to know what to do in what order to restore the last known good copies of data being used so that operations can be resumed.

"In general, you need to analyse your business and its requirements and determine what countermeasures you need to take and whether that means remote mirroring of operations or switching to an outsourcer that can handle important processes better."

How to prepare

Remote mirroring

Mirror IT operations across branch sites so that if one goes down others can continue to operate and take up the slack.

Use a second electricity supply

Back-up generators are suitable for large companies. Small businesses should consider moving from desktop to laptop PCs which, have their own batteries and can be powered down safely.


Outsource IT functions such as e-mail, which are vital to the business. Outsourcing companies are likely to have greater resources to cope with unforeseen events.

Source: John Collins, Quocirca

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