Backup systems keep communication lines open

Redundancy, from a technical perspective, is the ability to call on a backup system to sustain operations when primary services fail.

Having an alternative “work-around” proved indispensable this week after a key telephone line failed between ITD Headquarters and the Century Link facility in downtown Boise. The exact cause was not immediately known, but technicians indicate it might have been related to a heavy rainstorm compromising a copper telephone line.

The problem was later identified as construction work in the downtown area bored three holes in a large communication line.

That’s when redundancy came into play. Facing the loss of incoming and outgoing long-distance service, including toll-free calls, ITD rerouted calls to maintain service.

Quick response allowed the Division of Motor Vehicles to continue serving most clients, including the processing of Class D driver’s license issuance, motor vehicle records requests, vehicle registrations and titles by county assessors’ and sheriff’s offices.

A catastrophic failure was averted because ITD technicians had alternatives – or redundancies.

Wednesday afternoon, the only service ITD could not provide was the processing and issuing of commercial driver’s licenses because secure connectivity with national databases is required to verify the eligibility of applicants. That service was restored Wednesday evening.

Fearing the ability to process routine requests, the Canyon County driver’s license office closed early Wednesday but reopened a short time later after officials learned a backup system was in place.

"The extensive knowledge and quick actions of the ETS staff were key in putting temporary workarounds in place to minimize the impact of this significant outage to the ITD and county offices throughout the state," said Don Bernaiche, IT operations manager. "Their dedication and professionalism are a credit to ITD."

Individuals involved with untangling the problem were Bill Finke, ETS infrastructure manager and Michelle Cobler, IT project systems specialist.

Keeping the lines of communication open is a credit to ITD technicians who quickly moved into response mode.

Published 9-6-13