University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Global Market Place Activities
Internet America is a wireless ISP (WISP) that operates within the southern United States. Currently we have been expanding the use of WiMAX hardware to provide our customer base a better user experience with fewer issues. Our older hardware has become unusable due to the vendor being restricted from sales in the United States so we made the recent decision to utilize WiMAX hardware developed by an Israeli company. This has brought on the added challenge of maintaining the hardware in the event of a Middle East conflict that potentially could choke off supplies of the equipment in the United States. This ongoing conflict has no foreseeable end in sight so the CEO made the decision to negotiate into the contract with the Israeli company to provide us onsite spares for all major hardware to mitigate the chances of service interruptions to our customers in the event of an escalation of events in that region of the world.
The first identified risk for Internet America is the potential loss of our climate control systems that cool our corporate data center location. This location has a large number of temperature sensitive devices that are currently cooled by systems that are aging (8-12 years old) and are heavily utilized most of the year due to the location of our corporate offices in Houston Texas. This location necessitates that we run these systems continually for nine to eleven months of the year. This heavy utilization and the hardware’s age pose a very real risk to the serviceability of our corporate structure and support of our customers.
Being a WISP, the company relies heavily on the ability to move data to and from the customers. Our corporate headquarters are fed by a point to point fiber connection to our datacenter at Cyrus 1 in Houston TX. As with any buried cabling there is the potential for a cabling cut due to construction or as is more likely for our current location road repairs. The access streets in our location are in disrepair and are being constantly serviced due to the heavy trucks that utilize them constantly. Attacks to our core devices and support structures are common and attempts to breach our systems occur on an almost daily basis.
We have determined that most of these attempts are mainly just beginner computer enthusiasts that are trying out something they read on the internet or inadvertently tried to access our systems. This is evident in the amateur attacks that are attempted, however several times a month we get attempts from more advanced hackers that really test our abilities to detect and stop the attack. A large number of these more advanced hacks are initiated from China.
Being located in Houston TX our fourth identified risk would be damage to our Cyrus 1 datacenter location. This building was chosen due to its design and the lengths that the facilities owner has gone through to provide a stable and reliable infrastructure. Even with the most adept preparation there is no way to fully prepare a location in the event of a major natural disaster. Houston is well known for being impacted by hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding. All of which could potentially destroy any structure in the city if the conditions are just right.
The fifth identified risk is the potential for our WiMAX vender to be unable to provide hardware support in the event of an escalation of tensions in the Middle East. The conflicts in this region are well documented and have lasted for many decades with little to no end in sight. In the event of an escalation of terrorist activities against the Israeli nation we may see our hardware support be limited until the activity recedes or peace talks begin again.
As with any service industry, Internet America in not immune to the possibility of personnel loss due to the turndown in the economy. Internet service for most people would be considered a necessity in today’s society so the effects of a bad economy do not affect us as hard as other industries; however our core customer base is in rural areas and those customers do not have as cemented a need for internet service. This leaves the company vulnerable to revenue loss and possible staff reductions in a bad economic environment.
The availability of commercial power is fairly ubiquitous across the United States, and most companies take for granted that the service will stay on when needed. This however is not always the case and eventually most businesses will be afflicted with the loss of power during business hours. For Internet America this could be catastrophic as the loss of commercial power would render the customer support teams unable to service our clients and detect/resolve any outages that occur throughout the network.
The final and least likely risk Internet America faces is the possibility that we may fail a fire code inspection in the corporate offices. Due to the installed fire suppression systems in the datacenter, the company is required to undergo an annual fire safety inspection. In the event of a failure the facilities would not be usable until the needed repairs are completed. This could potentially disrupt our ability to service our clients properly.