ex-cyclone Oswald and Your Business Continuity

There I was sitting in an immobile Qantas 747 for 6 hours, all because a part in the breaking system had failed just as we began to leave the hangar bay.

I started to wonder why this hadn’t been detected whilst the bird had undergone it’s regular maintenance checks in the 12 hours it had been sitting at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and as I did, I began to reflect on the lessons my team and I had learned as a result of the recent ex-cyclone Oswald that ravaged parts of South East Queensland in the recent week.

As they say, “Hindsight is 20-20”. Why is it that so many of us rarely want to “invest in” [spend money on] something that could save us money and heartache later, but will pay¬†exorbitant¬†amounts to have something fixed or replaced when it unexpectedly breaks.

The captain of our flight informed us that they had to fly a replacement part in from San Francisco! Many of the passengers on the plane had connecting flights, which all had to be rescheduled. The cost to the airlines and the passengers, combined with the cost of the replacement part and man hours would have been astronomical. And all this because a part failed at the last moment.

I’m not suggesting that this may have been an avoidable incident. I don’t know anything about aircraft maintenance, and for all I know this could be a part that has an extremely low rate of failure and with no way of determining the chance of failure prior to the incident.

However, the week before the storms I sent out an email about Surge Protectors with absolutely no inclination that a storm was on it’s way that weekend.

I would hazard a guess that more people considered my suggestion during or after the storms, than before. Would I be right?

What lessons did you learn after the storm about your businesses dependence on technology?

Here’s a couple of quick thoughts to consider –

  • Consider the value of moving your emails into the Cloud – Hosted Exchange, Google Apps or even Office 365 offer your business email continuity irrespective of whether your office has power.
  • Replace your UPS’s every 3 years and the battery every 18 to 24 months – Batteries lose their ability to charge over a period of time, and the electronics in a UPS degrade over time, plus newer equipment offer greener, more efficient solutions that you will see on your electricity bill!
  • Make sure your servers, network switches, routers, firewalls and phone system are on a UPS and make sure your UPS and phone lines run through a surge protector! – It’s less expensive to replace a surge protector or UPS than it is to replace a server, or even a switch, especially when your staff are sitting around twiddling their thumbs.
  • Invest in a Telstra NextG wireless dongle and router – and get your IT guy to program it up and document what to do in the event your internet service drops out. A simple $300 investment could be the difference between business continuity and getting everyone to ‘file’ for a day.
  • Replace your servers every 3 to 5 years – Electronic equipment degrades over time. The longer you own it, the greater the chance of failure, plus new hardware can be more power efficient and will actually help you save money on electricity!
  • Attend one of our Disaster Recovery Preparedness Seminars! – shameless plug, but 2 hours out of your day could help you identify the ‘holes’ in your digital bucket!

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