When the cloud meets storm clouds


It was quite a summer, with an unfortunate stretch of natural disasters — both hurricanes and earthquakes – leading to widespread devastation in some regions.

From a business continuity and disaster recovery standpoint, there’s a lot to think about it. What’s a CIO or IT manager to do? Well, for starters, don’t put all your eggs in one basket — or all your cloud resources into one region or zone. For example, you would be smart to distribute your compute resources and data over several geographies not just in say US West and Northern California but in US East and Northern Virginia as well.

You also must make sure that when push comes to shove, your remote data centers can deliver your data goods. Just like backups, you need to test your clouds for disaster recovery before a disaster happens.

Businesses often ignore disaster recovery until it’s too late. But, the cloud has made disaster recovery easier for even small businesses to implement.

There is no one-size fits all disaster recovery plan. The factors you must consider are:

  • Ensure the right connections. Business continuity is comprehensive, whereas disaster recovery focuses on IT. You should integrate these. For example, does your disaster recovery plan identify and prioritize the most business-critical applications?
  • Define roles and responsibilities. You must have disaster recovery teams with specified roles and responsibilities.
  • Apply risk management. Production environments are always changing and the pace of business technology change is faster than ever today. Your planning must keep this in mind. When you use a multi-zone cloud, you’re more than half-way to a successful disaster recovery plan.
  • Update, test, update. Ongoing maintenance is the big difference between disaster recovery plans that succeed and those that fail. Update and test your disaster recovery plan regularly, and after any major change to your production environment.

You must also make sure that your workers can work remotely when things go wrong. Immediately following a natural disaster, everyone is of course  focused on staying safe. A week later, the water might be gone, but offices might be filled with mud and mosquitoes. You need to be sure your people can get their work done from home.

At the least, that means you must make certain:

1) Your staff have fast enough home internet access at home to access work resources.

2) Those resources are accessible to your workers.

3) Your virtual private network (VPN) –you do have a corporate VPN right? –can handle the traffic volume.

If you do all these things, your company can survive even a large-scale natural disaster. If you haven’t, well, good luck. You’re going to need it.


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