After the Hurricane: Expert Advice for Post-Disaster IT Service Recovery
October 16, 2017

Chris Adams
Park Place Technologies

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Hurricane season is in full swing. With the latest incoming cases of mega-storms devastating the Southeastern shoreline, communities are struggling to restore daily normalcy. Accordingly, many voices have weighed in with tips for consumers to get their lives back up and running. People have been stepping up and showing remarkable strength and leadership in helping those affected. However, there is another area that we need to remember in these trying times – and that is businesses continuity.

Today, most (if not all) businesses are heavily dependent on their digital assets and IT functions. This means that if a server is down, a business will not have access to its crucial resources. Even the most basic functions are often tied to these resources. Given the state of flooding and destruction that communities are seeing during storms like Harvey and Irma, business servers are frequently at risk. In 2012 when Sandy hit New York, many data centers fell victim to the storm leaving, several major (and not so major) companies with limited business capabilities in the weeks and months following. Many businesses did not begin moving their assets and focusing on recovery until it was too late.

I want to share tips we advise our clients for keeping your business running during a disaster, or quickly getting back up online after the worst has happened.

Before the Storm, Plan for the Worst

Disaster recovery begins well before the storm strikes.

Disaster recovery begins well before the storm strikes. Have a disaster recovery plan in place. Work with key stakeholders across your company to ensure that measures are in place to address any crisis that may arise. Create a variety of scenarios and plan your responses. Ensure everyone knows and understands their roles and responsibilities. Have a practice run to ensure all parties are working well together.

Additionally, ensure all of your warranties are up-to-date, and if they have expired, consider bringing on a third-party maintenance (TPM) provider. Not only will this save you costs, but TPMs are great support systems in a crisis. When we see a natural disaster, like a hurricane approaching, we work swiftly to contact our clients in that area and have key parts and staff staged and ready to mobilize after the storm has passed.

As the Storm is Approaching ...

As the storm is approaching, notify your OEM or TPM service provider, and let them know ahead of time that there is an incoming storm or a pending disaster that could affect your business. Raising the alert in advance offers your service provider an opportunity to route necessary components to safe staging areas just outside the storm’s reach to expedite recovery once the danger has passed.

After Danger has Passed

After danger has passed and you’ve ensured the safety of your employees, your first goal should be to restore IT servers and bring them back into operation. Turning them on, however, needs be done carefully. As with any water damaged server electrical device, safety comes first. Ensure that there is no standing water with power flowing through it. Before going in, consider switching the breaker for the server room off.

Once the power has been shut down, servers need time to dry. This needs to be done without moving the servers. Any movement may cause otherwise dry critical components, such as circuit boards, to experience additional damage.

After Drying the Servers

After drying the servers, the next step should be assessing the damage. When dealing with post-disaster recovery, there is often damage that is obvious to the naked eye. However, there is also damage that most people would not even think of.

For example, just because the equipment is dry, doesn’t mean its 100% operational. Water can leave corrosive mineral deposits on circuit boards and various other server components. It’s important to be thorough, and follow the manufacturers recommendations for care. If a warranty is still in place, now would be the time to contact the manufacturer.

Alternatively, consider a TPM provider. They have the same expertise as the OEM experts – often they previously worked for an OEM – and can keep your services up and running at 60 percent lower costs.

Monitor the Server Situation Going Forward

Lastly, after addressing the immediate damage and getting back up and running, the final step should always be to monitor the server situation going forward. Sometimes problems resulting from a disaster can appear months later. Keeping on top of server metrics — such as control room temperatures, cooling equipment, and monitoring component failures and other problems — will help alleviate further operation impairment to the business’ IT structure.

Whether addressing disaster recovery yourself, or contacting your warranty service provider, in the end, having a plan is key to effective post-disaster recovery no matter the situation.

Chris Adams is President and COO of Park Place Technologies
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