How IT Leaders Can Best Plan for Disaster

As recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy continue, it's time to think about how your IT organization will prepare for the next disaster.

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Tue, November 06, 2012
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First and foremost, Dubus says, no matter how high-tech your business is, old school is the way to go when it comes to disaster preparedness.

"One of the very first things I would say is to create a list of contact information for IT and the whole company," he says. "For instance, how to contact your manager and the other people you need to contact. It should be on paper. You want to have all of the information for your phone system provider, web server hosting, Internet contact—all the contacts you can imagine. Have it on paper and keep it updated."

It's About People and Planning

For a large, distributed enterprise, paper may be less of an immediate concern, but being able to reach out to your people should still be your first priority, says Daniel Newton, senior vice president of operations at Datapipe.

Datapipe is a provider of managed hosting services and data center infrastructure for IT services and cloud computing. Datapipe's headquarters are in Jersey City, N.J. on the other side of the Hudson River from New York City. It maintains data centers in Somerset, N.J., San Jose, Calif and the U.K. and China. Even with two data centers in New Jersey, Datapipe suffered no outages or failures as a result of the storm.

[Related: DHS Compares Cyber Threat to Hurricane Sandy Devastation]

"We focused on our people first and foremost," Newton says. "We had to ensure that we had the availability of our people and we had to make sure they were OK."

As soon as Newton's team was sure there was a reasonable probability of the storm hitting New Jersey, they made plans to move a number of people from the New Jersey office to an office in Austin, Texas for the week. The team also booked hotel rooms near the New Jersey facilities so they could walk to work if transit was impossible. Newton says the company even stocked up on supplies in the facility in case employees had to spend several days there. Team members in other locations around the world were also notified that their shifts might have to be flexible so they could pick up any slack.

[Related: How to Improve Disaster Recovery Preparedness]

"We did have people displaced," Newton says. "We did have people that didn't have power and we did have people that could not easily get into our critical infrastructure to help support our clients."

Even with those issues, Newton says Datapipe was able to take a roll call of all its employees in the wake of the storm and make sure everyone was OK.

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