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5 IT Disasters that will make you glad you prepared


You know the saying: Fortune favors the prepared mind. Yet many organizations don’t really learn this until it’s too late. Only when disaster has hit, and they’re deep in chaos and panic, do they realize the preparation that could have made their IT event into a non-event.

What does work: learning from other organizations’ disasters. Let’s look at 5 major IT crises and the lessons they taught regarding preparation and planning. Hopefully these crises will never befall you – but if they do, you’ll be glad to have prepared in advance.

Disaster #1: Expensive Downtime
It was the London Stock Exchange versus a bug on a single server – and the bug won. A full twelfth of the exchange went dark; just weeks later, another IT issue stopped all trading. Billions of pounds were lost.

Why You’re Glad You Prepared: Like the London Stock Exchange, downtime will probably happen to your organization at some point – but it doesn’t have to be nearly as expensive. Solutions like onQ that offer recovery within minutes keep you up and running so you don’t lose a small fortune in lost profits.

Disaster #2: Ransomware
Code Spaces was a successful young company when a Ransomware attack absconded with their files and demanded a massive multi-million dollar payout. The company was unable to raise the ransom; all data and backups were partially or completely deleted, and the organization was unable to recover financially and forced to shut its doors.
Why You’re Glad You Prepared: This story reiterates a few lessons. One: speed is critical in recovery. If you can immediately failover to a clone of your environment, ransom demands are meaningless. The second lesson: backups are worthless if criminals can get at them. Only encrypted backups kept offsite or in the cloud offer protection.

Disaster #3: Hurricane Sandy
Hurricane Sandy did considerable damage in 2012. Consider the flooding of several New York datacenters, including servers hosting BuzzFeed, Gawker, Huffington Post and other sites. A general loss of power in companies all over the area caused outages and loss of connectivity.

Why You’re Glad You Prepared: Earthquakes, hurricanes and other whims of Mother Nature can take down a many physical structure – but using a hybrid cloud solution can help protect your most valuable assets and provide flawless continuity even when your primary data center is under five feet of water.

Disaster #4: Random Accidents
A few years back, an odd chain of events wound up costing Rackspace an estimated $3.5 million in refunds. After a driver fell asleep at the wheel, his vehicle crashed into a building and knocked out a power transformer for the Rackspace facility. This stopped the cooling system; while emergency generators kept the data center processing going, the center began to overheat. The team was forced to implement an outage that lasted for hours while they repaired the damage.

Why You’re Glad You Prepared: While it’s hard to anticipate every last disaster that can take down your organization, the Rackspace incident points to the need to diversify systems to make immediate recovery and continuity a safe and effective reality. Even sophisticated disaster recovery plans can go awry under the right circumstances, so be sure to double down on a BDR strategy that can keep you going even when the first level of response fails.

Disaster #5: Fire
How bad could one small electrical fire be? Pretty bad. Just ask the state government of Iowa, whose data center suffered a fire and ensuing outage in 2014 right when the state had to issue $162 million in payments to employees, vendors and citizens. To add insult to injury, a blizzard was approaching and multiple services were down, including the Department of Transportation cameras that were desperately needed to monitor highways and bridges in the storm.

Why You’re Glad You Prepared: This story has a happy ending, as the Iowa team was able to restore financial systems, valuable apps and systems throughout the day and night. However, they did learn some valuable lessons about disaster response planning and protecting major enterprise systems. To protect your apps and systems when the unthinkable happens, keep your backups isolated and use a solution that offers full and immediate recovery. Partial recovery might work for partial disasters – but most disasters have a way of taking everything down with them.

Stay in business long enough, and disaster will happen to you. It’s hubris to think otherwise. But the right preparation and planning can save you untold time and money – and maybe turn you into a role model for other organizations to learn from.


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