TriCom Technical Services

Is Your I.T. Department Prepared for a Hurricane?

In IT news on September 2, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Ahh, the hurricane season is upon us.

According to experts, the 2010 hurricane season will prove to rival that of 2005, the year La Niña was termed, which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) describes as “cooler-than-normal sea-surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. La Niña causes lower wind shear in the Atlantic Basin, allowing storm clouds to grow and organize there.” (Lucas Mearian, ComputerWorld.com)

As hurricane Earl and tropical storms Fiona and Gaston prepare to blast through the eastern sea-board, I.T. managers are following checklists to properly ensure the safety of their companies’ businesses.

The problem is, their efforts may be too little, too late.

The growing dependency on technology in the last 5 years has created an ever-growing need to keep servers up and running, and unfortunately disaster recovery plans may not be as up-to-date as they should be, given the lack of funding due to the recession.

As dependence on information technology and services grows, budgets are being cut to smaller and smaller increments.

“‘Companies are decreasing investments in alternate data recovery sites, cutting back the number of staffers responsible for disaster recovery and business continuity, failing to maintain sufficient capacity on servers and storage, and neglecting to update plans and procedures,'” said Damian Walch, a director in business consultancy Deloitte & Touche’s technology risk practice.

‘”Not only do you have more dependence on [automated] systems, but you now also fewer people to run them, so you don’t have the geographic diversity you once had, and therefore your risks have increased,’ Walch added.”

If these tremendous storms cause any major destruction, some companies may be forced to deal with severe conditions for which they have very few people and no solutions.

To best prepare for the upcoming hurricane season, it is critical that you…

  • Update contact lists with phone numbers and e-mail addresses of vendors, key workers and executives.
  • Identify critical applications and establish the recovery point objectives for each.
  • Notify key employees of their assignments in case a primary location goes offline because of a storm.
  • Take snapshots of server configurations, and ensure that bare metal restores can be performed at alternate disaster recovery sites.
  • E-mail critical business units to notify them of the steps that have been taken to ensure that their processes will remain up in case of an outage in primary facilities.
  • Consider having manual procedures in place to continue business functions in case of an extended data center disruption

You should also make sure that diesel generators are topped off with fuel, fill reserve fuel tanks, cross-map key business processes to ensure that managers know the tasks of each facility, and let less-critical business units know that their applications or systems may not be available for a while.

This minimal preparation should aid those in the line-sights of a hurricane, but steps should be taken as soon as possible to update existing disaster recovery plans to avoid detrimental damage.

Good luck this hurricane season.

computerworld.com

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