Business Continuity – Sandy is a harsh reminder.

By Brian Reagan, VP Product Strategy & Business Development – We lost power last Monday afternoon around 3pm ET, so it took until the following morning at the office to see the images coming from the NY Metro area.   It was eerily reminiscent of a decade before, with images of devastation so vast and unimaginable that my first thought beyond the human impact was “how will New York ever recover?”

My family was lucky. Hurricane Sandy represented only an inconvenience.  Lost power for a few days meant flashlit card games with the kids and a refrigerator’s worth of food thrown out.  Downed trees and power lines turned a normally 25 minute commute into ninety minutes plus.

And even at that relatively tiny level of inconvenience, the impact on the workweek was significant – longer commutes, batteries drained, and evening work-time lost.  It was a very personal reminder of the impact of downtime on a business.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, there will be a lot of board-level discussions about Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity.   Unfortunately, it is Disaster Recovery Planningtoo often event-driven versus an ongoing component of a formal risk management program.  After 9/11, companies raced to put formal disaster plans in place.  The percent of companies with those plans peaked in 2005, then declined since then.  DR is an insurance policy and the checks get harder to write as the memory of disaster fades.

In the storage industry, we tend to think of DR and BC in terms of specific technologies – synchronous mirroring, asynchronous replication, tape vaulting, etc.   Technology is just a piece of the puzzle.    The people and process side of DR eclipse technology, from the development and testing of DR plans, to notification and response management.   An entire discipline known as Workforce Continuity is about getting employees operational quickly from an alternate location. Whether it’s a customer support call-center, or a bank’s trading desk, the ability to execute on a plan to alert employees in advance, direct them to a safe facility, and have the infrastructure in place to support a business function is invaluable in weeks like these.   Particularly when people will rightly focus first on their family’s well being during a crisis.

This week was a harsh reminder how fragile our day-to-day routine really is.   I hope that businesses and municipalities alike don’t let the lesson go unheeded and make sure they’re better prepared going forward.

The affected regions need every bit of help we can supply, so they can recover, rebuild, and try to get back to normal. Please give if you can.

Here’s one way to help: http://www.redcross.org/hurricane-sandy

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