Cloud Computing when Disaster Strikes

I live where the outer bands of Hurricane Michael hit last week.  I still don’t have power at the house, but I got my yard cleaned up and we have a generator running.  My other house is within eyesight of Mexico Beach, arguably the place that has suffered the worst.  I’ve heard people say Mexico Beach has been flattened.

Mexico Beach

Traveling to my house at the coast is not easy right now.  The only road in looks like its been through a major earthquake.  There is no electricity and no running water.

Cape San Blas

Back at the office today, I’m glad to say we have power.  Many of us may be preoccupied with cleanup and recovery efforts, finding it difficult to focus 100% on work.  Now I’m reflecting upon the whole event and several things have happened that will greatly impact my point of view from now on.

First of all, I was extremely concerned about our cloud service customers even before the hurricane hit.  We do our best to advise customers on disaster recovery options, but many are reluctant to act on our recommendations.  So you worry about them.  Then there are those that do select to implement a viable disaster recovery solution.  You worry even more about them!  Some of these customers were directly in the path of the hurricane including the City of Panama City.  Others are in the immediate area and include law enforcement agencies, health care and insurance companies, and school districts.  One customer called me for reassurance as the storm approached, to make sure we would be here and ready to failover his insurance brokerage operations if necessary.

I know that the solutions we deliver work reliably, but its impossible to feel 100% confident.  After all, I’ve lived through a lot of these storms here in Florida; “in the old days” I witnessed a lot of post-hurricane IT failures.

We had one customer contact us for help immediately after the hurricane came through.  A mission critical system was down; one we deployed for them in Microsoft Azure.  It turned out that the issue wasn’t caused by the storm of course.  It was a problem, but just one of your every day problems.  We solved it by email even when none of us on the response team had electricity in our homes or offices.

Other than that, as far as business here at Cloud Navigator goes, the most significant impact we had was not being able to come to the office to work due to a lack of electricity. In fact, even the cloud customers that never did act on our disaster recovery recommendations had zero outages.  Microsoft’s cloud data centers kept on chugging normally.

For me personally, it’s a bit different.  I’ve started back to work, and once again I am evangelizing.  One kind friend of mine who is also in IT posted on Facebook: “Mark Alexander was soooooo right five years ago. Cloud computing simplifies company’s Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP).”  My take away from this post is that I have friends that I can rely on.

I went over to a good buddy’s house yesterday morning to help clear a massive pine tree out of his backyard.  I was already worn out from the previous 3 days of work in my own yard.  But I did my best.  Until about 10 of our friends joined us and got ‘er done.

Then today a friend and business partner called me to find out if I need any help.  Anything she said.  At one point she offered “Just text me.  If you need ice, text me your address and I’ll leave you a cooler full of ice.”

This finally brings me to the point of this post: there is no substitute for good friends and family who you can rely on when you are down. Being able to depend on someone makes life better.  Reliable, dependable IT systems can sometimes improve disaster recovery efforts significantly, but it’s the people that use those systems that we really rely on.

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