Before I moved to Cardiff a couple of years ago, Aberystwyth was my home for the best part of a decade. I used to walk past the National Library of Wales every day on my way to work and pause for a second by the building so I could check out the fantastic view of the town from there.
When a fire broke out in the Library, my friends’ social media accounts were consumed by the story, as they all worried about friends who worked there, the building itself, and resources that it holds that are treasured both locally and nationally.
The scale of the reaction was dwarfed by the effects of the fire. When pictures emerged we were all shocked by them.
Einion Gruffudd and Owain Pritchard spoke at our IT shared learning seminar about how the Library managed to get their IT systems back online amidst all this. The fire occurred on the Friday, but amazingly computer services were up and running on the Monday, and the library was open for business as usual on the Tuesday.
There were lots of lessons to be learnt and experiences to share from Einion and Owain’s accounts. I wasn’t aware that most of the damage was caused by the water from extinguishing the fire rather than the fire itself, but incredibly data was recovered from 90% of the equipment affected. We heard how two data centres, a mesh network and virtualisation had all played a role in the system recovery.
Lots of the key messages from the session were highlighted on Twitter and can be seen on the Storify of the seminars. I highly recommend watching our interview with Einion too. Fortunately few of us ever need to put our disaster recovery systems into practice, so there’s lots for us to learn from people who’ve had to put their plans into action.