Here at Arbor Solutions, we’re in the middle of several High Availability (HA) and Disaster Recovery (DR) implementations for several clients, each one different from the rest. They include full HA and DR replication hot sites as well as hosted solutions. So, when a local event happened here the other day, it caused me to think about things a bit differently. A storm line went past our office during the afternoon. It wasn’t a run for the basement type storm. There was some lightening and it dumped a bunch of rain as it moved east. At 2:30pm that afternoon, that storm line greeted a small city 45 miles to the east with an EF-1 tornado. There was no warning from the National Weather Service. No one had any idea of the destruction that was about to hit. The 110 mph winds left a wake 4 miles long, 50 to 100 yards wide. In that path, it severely damaged or destroyed over 70 home, 4 churches and 12 businesses. The only good news from this event was that there was no loss of life.
According to FEMA, 40% of businesses do not reopen after a disaster and another 25% fail within one year. I sit here wondering how many of those businesses won’t get back on their feet. Early last July, another area close to here was hit with a tornado on a Sunday evening. It ripped through an industrial park that I travel past every day on my commute to the office. The next day, as I traveled to the office, I could see the destruction. I also got to witness, from the distance of the highway, as those businesses attempted to put the pieces back together. I saw construction crews and temporary office trailers move in. I saw businesses that had to shut their doors until repairs were made. I’ve also noticed there are at least a couple that never reopened.
So that gets me back to my title question, can your business survive a disaster? The ability to survive depends on lots of factors including such things as emergency response plans, business continuity plans, insurance coverage and even document retention. In IT, we tend to focus on the computer systems and the data resource we are entrusted with. I have been in the IT profession for over 3 decades now. The ability to recover from something has always been a discussion point. The truth is, most organizations don’t have the infrastructure, processes, or plans in place to recover from a true disaster. They have backups, and backups of backups, and backups of backups offsite, but do they have the ability to recover from half the building being blown away or the fire and water damage caused when the small electrical fire in the break room went undetected on a Saturday afternoon.
Many organizations talk about being prepared with a comprehensive HA or DR plan, but in my experience, most don’t get past the talking stage. There are lots of reasons for that. Upper management looks at it as a very expensive insurance plan or an expenditure on more ‘computer stuff’ with no return on investment. Without management support, there’s only so much IT management can accomplish. And some of the IT management professionals have their own reason for not moving forward, from a lack of understanding to a lack of resources. I understand that some are just trying to survive until the end of the day. None of this is going to matter much if the roof blows off the building.
So, as we work to implement an array of HA and DR solutions across various industries, I wonder about those 12 businesses that had their facilities destroyed the other day. If statistics hold true, 4 or 5 of those businesses will never reopen and another 3 of them will close their doors for good within the next 12 months. How many people will lose their jobs and what will be the overall impact on that city’s economy just from the loss to the business base.
If you’d like to have a discussion about what we can do to help you get past ‘just talking about it’ give me a call. DR and HA are just some of the things we do here at Arbor Solutions.
Michael Miller, President, Arbor Solutions, Inc.
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