Hurricane Harvey's unprecedented flooding of Texas may only be the the beginning. Now that a possibly more powerful Hurricane Irma targets the east coast US, you better hope your disaster recover plans are adequate.
With every disaster, both natural and manmade, organizations should debrief to determine what could have been done even better to help victims, rebuild and get business back online even faster. Doing so helps everyone—physically, mentally and financially.
Lessons learned during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina have undoubtedly played a big part in the rescue and recovery efforts in Texas and Louisiana over this last week and a half, and will contribute with the rebuild effort. And these lessons should apply both to those caught in the path of a disaster as well as those fortunate enough to escape unscathed.
Texas-based organizations including Houston Methodist medical center and food distributor Sysco are relying on backup and disaster recovery plans they had created and tested to ensure they are operating “close to business as usual.” They are employing on-prem and cloud backup and file transfer strategies, and ensuring remote network access for employees.
What can IT teams learn from events like Hurricane Harvey?
Have a Disaster Recovery Plan in Place
You will need to have a disaster recovery plan in place that employs redundant on-premise systems, the cloud, or a hybrid cloud mix depending on your needs and situation. But redundancy isn't enough if your failover systems are in the same region. For instance, Florida might get hammered by Hurrican Irma this weekend, so if your failover systems are both in Florida, you may not be protected when the storm hits. You will need a redundant system in a different region that you can rely on.
Additionaly, make sure your plan includes continuous monitoring of your network so issues and outages are identified and addressed immediately. Once your plan is in place, test the plan. Run through it as you would a fire drill, making sure everyone knows their roles and where they need to be.
Test the technology, including your backup power. Your UPCs will only save you a couple hours max when the power goes out and backup generators are expensive and need to be tested regularly. Review your service providers’ backup strategies, especially if they’re local. The best laid plans can hit a huge snag if your service provider is suddenly offline. It's best to abide by Murphy's Law--what can go wrong, will go wrong at the worst possible time.
Communicate, both internally to employees and externally to customers, as the plan is activated. The news might not all be good but transparency helps allay concerns.
Debrief, review and retool. These plans should be dynamic and refreshed because each new crisis surfaces new learnings. Also your plan from 10 years ago may have been the best solution then, but now there are probably way better alternatives to protect from data loss.
No one wants disasters to occur but…they do. Preparedness on all fronts can help minimize loss and disruption and help everyone get back to business as usual more quickly.
Read how the Texas State Guard (TXSG), a critical component of the hurricane relief effort, employed the Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold Network Management Solution to ensure the 24x7 network availability required for rapid emergency response to disasters like Hurricane Harvey.