With Hurricane Dorian finally projected to weaken and move out to sea after ravaging the Bahamas and causing damage in Florida and the Carolinas, I sat down with John Lynch, VP of Babylon Solutions to learn more about what businesses should do in the event of a natural disaster to keep operations up and running and protect their data.
John is no stranger to dealing with natural disasters and business continuity. On October 29th, 2012, Superstorm Sandy devastated New York and New Jersey. At the time, John was working at a fintech company in midtown Manhattan as a Network Administrator. Having the company’s data and systems on site as was the norm in 2012, he knew that he had to act fast once the power went out during the storm and wasn’t projected to be restored for several days. John quickly arranged for several of the company’s execs and employees to meet on site the day after Sandy. Flashlights in hand, John and his team disconnected the dozen or so servers, trudged them down 11 flights of stairs, and loaded them into the backseat of John’s car. Finding a location with internet, electricity, and air conditioning for the servers was challenging, but after what seemed like a million phone calls, John finally found a spot in Delaware where one of the company’s vendors had a data center.
Without a working GPS (since cell service was down in many areas), he relied solely on a paper map to assist him with finding alternate routes when he encountered road closures. After a challenging drive, John and the servers finally made it to Delaware. He worked tirelessly to wire and power them up on the server racks and reconfigured the infrastructure. As John explains, “This enabled the company’s employees to work remotely from a conference center that they rented out in a nearby hotel, until electricity and internet service was restored to their Manhattan office.”
While John states that he “definitely would not recommend loading your entire server infrastructure into the back of a 2012 Elantra and driving it across 3 states to a new data center,” his misfortune can certainly serve as a reminder to make sure you have a solid business continuity plan in place in the event of a natural disaster.
Here are three key takeaways from John’s story that you can apply to your business:
Create and Implement A Business Continuity Plan ASAP
Don’t put it off! While creating a business continuity plan can be costly and time-consuming, investing the time and money now will ensure your business has the best chance for recovery in the unfortunate event of a natural or man-made disaster. Getting everything up and running now will ultimately save you money in the long run.
Make Sure to Have a Business Continuity Location in Place
Have you considered where your employees will work if the power is out or if your primary location is inaccessible after the storm? Your business needs to have a plan for a temporary location to work out of, such as a hotel or conference center unless your employees have company laptops or devices where they will be able to work remotely. Having a business continuity location in place will prevent you from losing valuable time in the event of a hurricane, flood, or other natural disaster.
On-Site and Off-Site Backups
It’s crucial to make sure that your data is backed up at on-site and at an off-site location. John also recommends integrating with cloud-based technologies such as Google, Amazon AWS, or Microsoft. If disaster strikes, at least you will be able to access your data from there. Being adequately prepared for a disruption will prevent data loss and help keep your business up and running.
Proper planning today will protect your business from downtime, lost income, and major data loss during a potential natural disaster in the future.