The Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA), Northrop Grumman and staff from 16 state agencies have successfully completed a comprehensive information technology (IT) infrastructure disaster recovery drill.
The test involved a simulated complete loss of the data center at the Commonwealth Enterprise Solutions Center (CESC). The test began on Aug. 11 and was wrapped up this past weekend.
“It is vitally important that the commonwealth test mission-critical computer systems on a prescribed schedule” said Commonwealth Chief Information Officer Sam Nixon. “These tests determine the readiness and back-up capabilities of the IT infrastructure in the event of a disaster. Just as emergency responders plan, test and prepare for disasters, we must be equally prepared to react as circumstances demand. The state’s executive branch agencies depend on VITA and Northrop Grumman for continuity of services. We conduct these tests to ensure that if systems go down during a disaster, we can restore them so that agencies can continue to serve the citizens of the commonwealth.”
The scenario involved formation of a sinkhole under the CESC data center in Chester that made it inoperable.
“When the test called for a complete loss of the data center, systems were restored at the commonwealth’s back-up data center — the Southwest Enterprise Solutions Center in Lebanon, Russell County,” said Jim Kane, vice president and program manager, VITA program for Northrop Grumman.
“This was a very successful test,” Nixon said. “All systems at CESC were completely recovered to the back-up data center in Russell County. We restored critical systems within 24 hours and less critical systems in 48 hours, meeting our required service level requirements. The goal of the test is to discover and correct any shortcomings so they are not encountered during an actual disaster.
Participating agencies included the Compensation Board, Comprehensive Services for At-Risk Youth and Families, Department of Accounts, Department of Corrections, Department of Elections, Department of Human Resource Management, Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, Department of Social Services, Department of Taxation, Department of Treasury, Department of Transportation, State Corporation Commission, Virginia Employment Commission, VITA and the Virginia Retirement System.
Northrop Grumman provides the IT infrastructure, including networks, servers, computers, etc., for state executive branch agencies under a contract with the commonwealth. VITA oversees the contract.
Virginia is believed to be the only state in the country that executes a full disaster recovery drill. Most states perform partial drills or conduct tabletop exercises.