In the wake of Hurricane Irma, I’m taking some time to reflect on my personal and business disaster preparedness plans and outcomes. Living in Florida, we learn to expect a tropical storm or hurricane to threaten our homes and businesses each year. Most years, we dodge the worst of it, but usually there is some impact.
Here I sit in my office two days after the storm has passed over us and the power is still out at my house a couple of miles away. I live on a street that is still serviced by power lines on a canopy road with a lot of majestic live oak trees that frequently interfere with the electricity. I have a portable generator but it is loud and difficult to keep it running for multiple days–so the food in our refrigerator and freezer is going to get tossed out again. We don’t have running water either.
There was a time not long ago that our company’s internal IT systems were prone to fail in some way and it wasn’t just during storms. We suffered outages to email, application and data servers whenever the power went out, and sometimes, it was TRICKY to get them back up and running. I can think back to one time after a storm that a database server had a disk drive failure when we tried to bring it back online and we lost a couple of days getting it fixed.
Things are different today. We have no servers at either of our office buildings, just a little bit of network hardware. All of our systems are in The Cloud. We rely on the built in redundancy and fault tolerance offered by Microsoft’s cloud platforms. These systems are designed to expect failures and outages and remain operational and protected. Disk drive failures probably happen frequently, but we never even know about it and there is absolutely no impact to operations.
If a data center where one of our systems is deployed were to be destroyed, we of course would have some down time, but we know that all of our data, apps and servers are safely replicated to other data centers and ready to be brought online if necessary.
The day before Hurricane Irma hit us, we put a few sandbags along the front door to the office building. The double glass doors have leaked water once or twice during heavy wind and rain. That was the extent of our disaster preparedness efforts as the storm approached.
Over the past year, we’ve learned how self-hosted on premise IT systems can be protected in The Cloud, and we’ve been rolling out that capability to our customers–so you don’t have to go “all in” on cloud computing to enjoy some of its benefits.
One of the most important things I’ve learned myself is that it doesn’t have to be difficult to have peace of mind and a high confidence that stuff is going to keep on working. It can be easy, inexpensive, and rapidly implemented. All good!