Extreme Weather Changes The Nature of Disaster Recovery

Extreme Weather Changes The Nature of Disaster Recovery

July 30

Karl Palachuk is the senior systems engineer at America’s Tech Support, author of ten books, and contributor to the Recovery Zone. 

We used to know what to prepare for: those days may be gone.

You’ve seen the news: “extreme weather” has become a common phrase in the last few years. Unprecedented floods, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and droughts. Big cities—big like New York—are shut down by weather. Huge areas of the country are hit at once.

This new kind of weather is extremely important to keep track of, especially if you are responsible for keeping your clients’ machines up. You need a different perspective on disaster recovery. At the same time, your ability to deal with extreme weather brings some opportunities your way. Here’s what I mean.

Change Your Perspective

We used to have a good idea of what to prepare for. And if we worked within a specific region, we actually had a very good idea. If you’re in tornado alley, you prepare for tornadoes. If your area gets floods every few years, you prepare for floods. And so forth.

But scientists are saying that we’re entering a period of climate change that is causing a series of natural disasters completely outside of our historical experience. Super Storm Sandy is one example. The 700-mile derecho (wind storm) that shut down Washington, DC last year is another example.

For our discussion, it makes no difference whether this all just part of the ebbing and flowing of natural trends or caused by global warming. What does matter is that “extreme weather” needs to be part of your vocabulary—and your toolset. You literally need a disaster recovery plan for events and circumstances you cannot imagine.

One of the classic elements in creating a disaster recovery plan is to list all possible events and then try to associate probabilities with that. So you list fire, flood, HazMat spill, hurricane, and so forth. After you have assigned best-guess probabilities, you can decide which of these you really need to spend money preparing for.

That process is exactly what has become obsolete and irrelevant in an era of extreme weather. Now you need to add an item that just says, “Unable to access office and network for the foreseeable future.” In other words, assume that everything physical is gone. And this applies to more than just the client’s office. It could be the entire city, county, or region.

If part of your plan includes taking media offsite for safe storage, that offsite location better be a long ways offsite! If your entire town is evacuated and shut down for a week, having a backup disk ten miles away is not good enough.

And that’s where the opportunity comes in.

Marketing Opportunities Evolve

Here are two opportunities that result from this extreme weather: Client awareness and your expert status. Both of these are relatively easy to achieve.

Client awareness happens when they simply watch the news. But you can always give them an assist! Point out disasters in your newsletter, email, and social media. You don’t have to be heavy handed at all. Just make a comment like, “I hope these people have a good backup and recovery plan.”

I started pinning disaster images to a Pinterest Board last year called Bad Stuff Happens. There are now over 120 pins there. Feel free to point clients to it, repin images, or just copy the whole concept.

The message to clients is exactly what we’ve covered here: We no longer know what to protect clients from. We need to have a plan that protects your business from anything. Luckily, the recent extreme weather has resulted in proof that businesses can recover quickly (or avoid being affected at all) with cloud-based solutions.

The second opportunity has to do with your expert status in this area. Learn how to deploy these modern solutions and then make sure you talk about this in your marketing as well. There are many amateur consultants who think switching USB drives is a “disaster plan.” Well, it might be a plan for a disaster, but it’s not a disaster recovery plan.

You can deploy real solutions with best-in-breed cloud services. Make sure your prospects understand that they should be hiring someone who really knows how to design, maintain, and execute a disaster recovery plan. Push the need for testing and preparation. Be that expert.

No one really knows whether this extreme weather period will last a few years or decades. What we do know is that you really need to provide a higher level of security than you’ve ever provided before. Luckily, we live in an era where that level of security is widely available at a very reasonable price.

Photo Credit: NASA Goddard Photo and Video via Compfight cc