Disaster Recovery requires a company to think about many things, but have you thought about what your employees should do post-disaster? The question has evolved in our COVID-19 world, but it still merits discussion, as that which will define the post-COVID world changes every day.
Those exploring Disaster Recovery often get singularly focused on protecting their servers and data. And of course, those are extremely important. However, they don’t capture the entire picture. Depending on the disaster (e.g. fire, flood, hurricane), your company’s office could be out of commission for some time. And if your office is not accessible, how should employees go about working? It’s great that your servers and data failed over successfully, but what good is it if your employees are unable to access them? During a disaster is not the time to start scrambling to find solutions.
Previously I’ve recommended companies have a work-from-home policy and the required infrastructure in place, specifically ones that can handle the scale or easily scale-up to support the entire workforce. Nothing will gray a system administrator’s hair faster than dealing with an entire company trying to connect to an undersized VPN connection. Another recommendation is to have pre-arrangements with a property management company about using one of their locations temporarily, or a local hotel to use a conference room space.
But in our COVID-19 world, working from home is the new normal. And undersized VPN tunnels have been (or are) in the process of being right-sized because of the massive shift to remote-work. So, did this question just answer itself? Can we all just post our favorite celebratory meme? Maybe. Maybe not.
Larger-scale disasters can damage your employees’ homes as much as they damage an office park. Hurricane Sandy knocked out power to significant swaths of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. For some, those outages lasted for weeks. So, picture this scenario: the office is closed because of a disaster (e.g., a global pandemic). Then, say a hurricane knocks-out power to 40% of your critical IT staff. Considering we are in the middle of a pandemic, and in the middle of hurricane season, this is not out of the realm of possibility.
In this scenario, can your systems afford to have staff unavailable for several days? Do you have enough skill diversity/redundancy to overcome a temporary staff loss of 40%? What if all your DBAs are in that 40%? If you are a national or global company with employees scattered across geographic regions, perhaps you have skill-redundancy across regions. But what if you are a smaller company with only one office? Maybe you can open the office, just for critical staff. With a small workforce, social distancing might be possible. Maybe I just sent a cold chill down your corporate risk officer’s spine. Perhaps your employees can go to friends’ or relatives’ homes? Maybe the company will just spring for hotel rooms for critical staff so they can work socially distant?
I don’t have an answer; there might very well be more than one. Above, I’ve laid out a few, all (or none) of which may be viable for your company. Each organization should address these items for themselves, as each company will have to figure out its own unique solution. As with all things related to Disaster Recovery, the important thing is to address the questions and answers before the disaster strikes, not during or after. We at Anexinet have deep experience with Disaster Recovery and help customers answer these very questions every day. Please reach out to us at any time. We’d love to help you and your company answer yours.