Lessons Learned from Hurricane Season


This past month, Hurricanes Irma and Harvey and the toll they have taken on the states of Florida and Texas have shined light on the importance of technology to businesses.  We consistently have conversations with clients about how to prepare for an array of scenarios, caused primarily by natural disasters.  Here are some of the lessons we have learned:

Power is King 

Some of us were out of power at office and homes for days.  Business owners realized quickly that they could not have people go to the office with no power.  Even with a generator powering some computers, the air conditioning might be out as well. We all know working with no AC in Florida is not an option.  This led to a significant loss in productivity and valuable time for many businesses. 

Cloud to the rescue 

The last time we had hurricanes large enough to cause similar amounts of damage, most of our clients were running email servers at their offices.  Now with the cloud being our mainstream solution and our clients on Office 365, we were still able to communicate via email and Skype for Business.  ION247 has all of their systems in the cloud, so we were able to keep answering phones and responding to clients through all of the outages. 

All Internet is not the same 

Unfortunately, some of our clients that use Internet through cable networks did have an extended outage.  Most businesses had power at their offices, but the Internet was not up.  Throughout the outage, Spectrum would not commit to any type of timeline of restoring the service.  This is basically because they are a residential service first and do not design their network for resiliency.  Our clients that had an Enterprise class solution, like fiber or T-1, had zero issues after the storm. 

"Up" does not always mean stable 

Our clients that use Internet through a cable network experienced a lack of a stable connection.  It was functional, but clients that used remote desktop, VoIP, or stream video reported disconnections or jitter.  With so many changes happening on the network, disconnections would occur momentarily for days after they were technically back online. 

Cell phone towers can go down too 

During a storm, we all often rely on cell phone coverage as a stopgap.  However, cell phone towers can be knocked out as well, and we found ourselves having to drive around to find the best signal. 

Understand the stakes 

We had a client who knew they would be very busy post-storm proactively reach out to us to complete some tasks before things got chaotic. This has encouraged us to understand each of our clients' key verticals, or the assets that are at stake in light of a storm, and form and deploy a strategy plan to protect them. This positions our clients for success, even when the outcomes are unknown. 

Protect your data 

For most of our customers in the Southeast, the storms have just been an operational nuisance.  However, in the case of the Florida Keys, Houston and Puerto Rico, the recent hurricanes were “Disaster Events”.  In some cases, all computing resources are ruined or are no longer available.   In these situations, having a cloud-based Disaster Recovery Plan will likely be the difference in which of these entities survive.  Cloud-based DR solutions like Datto not only keep a snapshot of your data and environments in the cloud, but also provide computing resources to restore that data too so that you can recover, no matter the circumstances. 

In any situation, it is always good to review the results of a major issue to plan for the next one.  We will be discussing these items in upcoming business reviews.  In the meantime, if you have questions, concerns, or you would like to secure a plan to protect your business, please feel free to reach out to us.