Thankfully natural disasters such as Hurricane Matthew don’t come along all that often. But when they do, there’s nothing quite like a hurricane to focus the IT mind on the potential impact this kind of storm can have on a business. It’s not so much the winds a hurricane creates that most organizations have trouble coping with as it is the amount of flooding that usually occurs and the almost inevitable loss of electrical power.
Starting today Hurricane Matthew is expected to slam into Florida and perhaps continue on up the coast as far as North Carolina before being pushed out to sea. That should limit the potential damage to a relatively narrow swath of the southeastern U.S.
Unfortunately, far too many businesses inside and outside that region still don’t have a particularly good disaster preparedness plan in place from an IT perspective. That’s a shame because thanks to the cloud it’s never been simpler to replicate applications and data running on a server located in Florida, for example, to a server hosted in a data center hundreds or even thousands of miles away from the storm. This gives the business the option of redirecting users to those applications in the event of a disaster. Later on they can also use those applications and data to restore their local servers.
Proper disaster recovery planning
At a bare minimum, most organizations should be implementing a 3-2-1 strategy when it comes to data protection. There should be at least three copies of their data. Two of those copies should be available on different types of media, while the third is hosted somewhere in the cloud. If a disaster is relatively confined, an organization should be able to use a local copy of their data to restore files quickly. In the event of a major disaster, they should be able to replicate their data to any new IT infrastructure that it may be necessary to stand up after the damage caused by a storm of the magnitude of Hurricane Matthew is repaired.
Unfortunately, far too many organizations are too lackadaisical when it comes to data protection. They may have backed up their data somewhere, but no one has tested the recovery process any time recently. It could very well turn out that most of the data they backed up is actually corrupted. Because of poor data management practices that business might never recover from a disaster.
Of course, disasters are not the moment an IT services provider should be looking to profit from their data protection expertise. They should be doing everything they can to help the local business community get back on its feet. But in the days and weeks ahead while the impact of the storm is still fresh in everyone’s mind, IT services provider should make a concerted effort to educate customers about the best data protection practices they should be putting in place to limit damage in the future.
There will always be another natural disaster. No one can say where the next hurricane, earthquake, or wild fire is going to strike. But that doesn’t mean there’s any IT excuse for organizations not to be able to quickly recover their data and applications as part of a larger risk management strategy. That may not always save the business, but at the very least it will guarantee that business has a fighting chance.
Photo by NASA