The article originally appeared in the Jan./Feb. edition of INTERNET TELEPHONY.
Hurricane Irene left a trail of destruction in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern States in August 2011. In October, a major snowstorm shut down the northeast power grids. October 2012 brought the record-breaking hurricane/Nor’easter hybrid Sandy. It ripped into the area, destroying coastal communities and leaving heavy wet snow inland. Even Lower Manhattan in New York was flooded, causing massive damage.
Nine days later, Nor’easter Athena dropped up to 12 inches of snow, triggering additional power outages. Gas was being rationed. Internet service was limited, and several mobile phone services failed. People were cold and miserable.
Yet some organizations managed to operate quite well. How did they do it?
The organizations that fared best were those that had migrated to a cloud platform and had implemented a business continuity/disaster recovery plan. BC/DR plan basics are not complex and most resellers can provide guidance. Advanced designs may require a specialist.
The key factor to keep in mind is that BC/DR plan components are readily available and affordable for organizations of all sizes.
My home and office were in the affected areas, so it may help if I share my experiences. Sandy triggered the third full implementation of my personal DR plan in five years. When the storm warnings were posted, I made reservations at hotels No. 1 and 2 on my DR plan list. Hotel No. 1 maintained power and Internet services during my past two emergency relocations. The storm struck in the late afternoon, and the power grids started failing shortly after sundown. Hotels No. 1 and 2 lost power.
Fortunately, Hotel No. 3 retained power, so I immediately made reservations.
Surveying the devastation at daybreak and browsing for information on my Android (News - Alert) phone, I knew immediately the power outage would be extensive. I have a small generator to cover the basics – lights, refrigerator, heat and cold running water – so I decided to wait it out. My 4G and copper landline services stayed live, but our Internet connection did not. I used my smartphone for calls, e-mail and emergency updates.
During the day, I would travel to the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot (the lobby of hotel No. 3) for full communication channels. The disaster situation continued to deteriorate as the week progressed, so I relocated to hotel No. 3 to devote as much time as possible to company business.
A key factor for my plan’s success was the cloud computing and DR solutions my company had implemented: Microsoft (News - Alert) Office 365 for all employees; Lync, CRM and other applications hosted in a first-class colo; and a cloud fax DR agreement with the etherFAX Hybrid Cloud Service. Fax can be a vital tool in emergency situations. All applications and services stayed live for the entire time.
Employees are an organization’s most valuable resource. Therefore, priority No. 1 is to protect the staff and provide them with the necessary tools to continue working. Key employees must be available to manage operations and assist customers, particularly customers in the disaster zone where needs may be critical.
All employees should be encouraged to have a go bag ready when warnings are posted.
After the power fails or mandatory evacuations are ordered, evacuation can turn into a mad scramble where medications, smart devices, laptops or other necessities are forgotten.
Resellers are obligated to advise customers that a BC/DR plan should be in place. Remember: they’re depending on you to provide solid professional advice. This is why they engaged your company in the first place. With today’s cloud and communications technologies, putting a plan in place is fairly straight forward. Organizations will also realize immediate benefits from the increased efficiency and cost savings of cloud solutions. Resellers will enjoy the additional revenue from these sales, plus have the satisfaction of knowing they did their best to protect their customers – a win-win situation all around.
Sample BC/DR Checklist
- Cloud Hosting
- Hybrid Cloud Fax
- Home Offices
- Hosted Fax
- Hosted VoIP
- Hosted UC
- Mobile Home Office
- Microsoft CRM (Colo)
- Microsoft Lync (Colo)
- Microsoft Office 365
- Mobile Smart Devices
Not all of the above applications and services have to be implemented at once. Nor does the list include all possibilities. The key is to create a solid BC/DR plan and begin the process of implementing it. Don’t procrastinate – start working on this now.
Max Schroeder is senior vice president of FaxCore Inc. (www.faxcore.com) and managing director of the DPCF.
Edited by Braden Becker