Re-thinking IT in the wake of a natural disaster

By Lizzie MacNeill, Communications Officer, Calgary

CloudSecurity2The June floods in Alberta took everyone by surprise. Ten years ago, this kind of flood would probably have taken down web sites everywhere, and it was a vote of confidence for Alberta's IT industry that most all city, governmental and industry websites remained live during the event.

The flood was the cause of widespread power grid damage in the downtown core and did cause destruction of some of the cities IT infrastructure. Many organizations saw their servers destroyed – halting business operations, and shutting down staff email accounts. Luckily, there are ways to prepare for, or even prevent, such an IT crisis.

How the National Music Centre was saved by the cloud:

The National Music Centre is located in one of the areas hardest hit by the flood in Calgary. Over a week after the flooding started they are still without power and building access. One of Cybera's part-time staff members who also works at the NMC was able to get the server out to high ground at Cybera.

So, what are the benefits of using cloud computing to aid disaster recovery?

The Online Tech Institute does a great job of explaining how cloud computing can speed up IT recovery:

"Since the virtual server is hardware independent, the operating system, applications, patches and data can be safely and accurately transferred from one data center to a second data center without the burden of reloading each component of the server. This can dramatically reduce recovery times compared to conventional (non-virtualized) disaster recovery approaches where servers need to be loaded with the OS and application software and patched to the last configuration used in production before the data can be restored," says Online Tech.

Using cloud computing and virtualization tools ensures that organizations are is protected from natural disasters because they are not reliant on an actual physical server. If one goes down, they can simply launch another. Other ways to protect your IT infrastructure include:

1. If your servers are located in the basement, move them to the top floor. Servers are expensive, difficult to replace and hold a goldmine of valuable data. They are the collective safe of an organization. But because servers are clunky, noisy and not very easy on the eyes, they often end up in the basement. Moving them to a higher floor greatly decreases their chance of being impacted during a natural disaster.

2. Even if you are using cloud services, backup your data regularly. Backing up data might seem too obvious, but now that many businesses use the cloud for everything such as storing all their documents on Google Drive), they may not realize that they should still backup their data. In this new world of IT, natural disasters in other parts of the globe could potentially have an impact on your operations. Be safe and backup, it's better than being sorry!

3. Know how to work remotely. A team that is used to working online in a dispersed workforce is well-trained to still be productive during a crisis. Some events might require staff to be out of the office for an extended period, but if they are already setup to work online, you won't fall far behind.

Got some IT crisis prevention tips of your own? Comment or connect with us!