If you tell enough stories, perhaps the moral will show up.


G20 Meltdown Saves the Finance Sector

The protestors -- G20 Meltdown and the climate campers -- did a big favour to London finance firms.

For three years, the FSA has been nudging us to do "pandemic planning" -- to prepare for situations like a legal or de facto quarantine where most staff will be staying at home by choice or under legal compulsion (or a train strike, or civil disorder or ...) This isn't DR proper -- if you don't want to say pandemic (and I don't, it's silly) you can call it Colleague Availability Planning.

And since we are a good and dutiful regulatee we have done what we can. In our case, that's a Citrix farm and an SSL VPN, with security settings that make it a little less unsafe when it's accessed from untrusted PCs. To ensure it's running and up to date, we use it for most of our remote access (I've preserved a little dignity by insisting that remote admins, and staff  who need off-line access to data still have to use a trusted laptop.) The gimmick is that the equipment is grossly overspecified. Over a normal day, maybe 2% of staff log on. But the farm, the gateways and the Internet access is sized for 50%, and that presented us with a problem. We have no idea whether it is could handle the planned load, as we could never arrange that many to try it at once.

We got some information from the snow day in February -- that got us up to 15%. But the G20 demos were another thing again. Staff told to work at home, and pretty much told that unless they showed up on the VPN they'd be taking the day as holiday.

The first day, we struggled. A lot of silly glitches and one big one -- the presentation servers in the farm had not been built to specification. Very easy to fix, as it happened, and the second day went smoothly with about 40% of users -- pretty much the expected number -- on line.

And that's the gift that the G20 protesters gave us. Whatever you think of Mexican Swine Flu, you can be certain that we'll have to demonstrate to the FSA that our pandemic plan is up to scratch. And, now, thanks to the crusties, we can say, confidently and truthfully (and you need both to speak to the FSA) that it is.

Thanks, guys and gals! Was that what you wanted to do for us?

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