Hurricane season took quite a toll this year. With multiple mega-storms devastating the Southeastern shoreline and the Caribbean, communities are still struggling to restore daily routine.

Accordingly, many experts have weighed in with tips for consumers to get their lives back up and running. People have been showing extraordinary strength and leadership in helping those affected. However, there is another area that we need to remember in these trying times – business continuity.

As the chief operations officer of one of the world’s largest storage, server, and networking hardware maintenance providers for IT data centers, supporting more than 10,000 organizations in over 100 countries, I want to share my advice for keeping your business running during a disaster, or quickly getting back up online after the worst has transpired.

Most, if not all, businesses are heavily dependent on their digital assets and IT functions. This means that if a server goes down, a business will not have access to its fundamental resources. Even the most basic tasks are often tied to these assets.

Given the state of flooding and destruction that communities suffered during storms such Harvey, Irma and Maria, business servers are frequently in jeopardy. In 2012, when Hurricane Sandy hit New York, many data centers became victims of the storm, which left companies with limited business capabilities for weeks and months afterwards. Many of these businesses did not begin relocating their assets and focusing on recovery until it was too late.

Before the storm

Disaster recovery should commence well before the storm arrives:

  • Have a disaster recovery plan in place.
  • Work with key stakeholders across your company to ensure that measures are in place to address any crisis that may arise.
  • Create a variety of scenarios and plan your responses.
  • Ensure everyone knows and understands their roles and responsibilities.
  • Have a practice run to ensure all parties are working well together.
  • Make sure all product warranties are up-to-date

Regarding the last point – businesses using IT equipment with expired warranties should consider bringing on a third-party maintenance provider (TPM). Not only will this save you costs, but TPMs like ours are great support systems during a crisis. When we see dangerous weather approaching, we work swiftly to contact our clients in the affected areas and ensure critical components and staff is mobilized for after the storm.

During the storm

Notify your OEM or TPM service provider that there is a pending disaster that could potentially affect your business. Raising the alarm in advance offers your service provider an opportunity to prepare necessary staging areas just outside the storm’s radius to accelerate recovery.

After the carnage

Once it has been established that the danger has subsided and your employees are safe, your next priority should be to restore IT server operation. Turning them on, however, needs be done carefully. As with any water-damaged server or electrical device, safety comes first.

It must be established that there is no standing water with power flowing through it. Before entering the server room, consider switching the breaker off. Once the power has been cut, servers need time to dry, and this must be done without moving them. Any motion may cause otherwise dry critical components, such as circuit boards, to suffer additional damage.

After everything is dry

The next step is damage assessment. When dealing with post-disaster recovery, most damage is evident. However, there is also damage that most people would never consider. For example, just because the equipment is dry, doesn’t mean it’s operational. Water can leave corrosive mineral deposits on circuit boards and other components. It’s critical to be thorough and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for care.

If a warranty is still in place, the manufacturer must be contacted. Alternatively, TPM providers have the same expertise as the OEM – often having previously worked them – and can keep your services up and running at 60 percent lower costs. At Park Place Technologies, we also have a service first guarantee. We’ll get you back up and running first, and discuss costs later.

Monitor your equipment

Once damage has been assessed and power has been carefully restored, the server situations must be monitored closely moving forward. Problems resulting from a disaster can appear months afterwards, so reviewing server metrics such as control room temperatures, cooling equipment, and component failure signals will help alleviate further operation impairment to the business’s IT structure.

Whether addressing disaster recovery yourself or contacting your warranty service provider, having a plan in place is key for effective post-disaster recovery, regardless of the situation.

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Chris Adams

Chris Adams

Chris Adams is chief operating officer at Park Place Technologies, a storage, server and networking maintenance provider.