Two weeks ago we marked the 10th anniversary of 9/11. I paused to reflect on that day, particularly significant to me as a native New Yorker who lost former colleagues, and commiserated with family and friends who lived there, a day they and I will never forget.

As someone who works with clients to improve their DR posture and capabilities, I was struck by a TechRepublic article written by Bob Eisenhardt, a member of the Aon insurance IT team -- Aon is a global insurance company that was located in the South tower on 9/11. In the article Eisenhardt recounted his experience from that day in the form of DR lessons learned.

It’s safe to say that after such a tragic event, people have been paying more attention to disaster recovery measures. Yet as recent events make clear, at many enterprises there are still some gaps in readiness.

DR Reminders:

  • Staff should be clear about what they are expected to do when an event occurs; people lost their lives because they ran the wrong way or went back to retrieve something.
  • Viable backups are critical. Aon had the good fortune of having shipped backup media offsite the day before 9/11.
  • Supplier agreements and partnerships are important. Aon had servers, network equipment and desktops/laptops delivered to their temp space days later.

After reading the article and in light of last month’s earthquake and hurricane, and the aftermath of what was the deadliest tornado season in 50 years, I wondered if we had learned these lessons and others.

Effective Communication

As Eisenhardt noted in his article, people should be your top priority. Which means staff clarity about actions is vital. Ineffective communications during the 8/23 earthquake resulted in people going where they shouldn’t have. Fortunately, no lives were lost. 

Viable backups

We are working with several clients that have issues with the efficacy of their backups. In one case, the departure of a key staff member led to the discovery that for several months, empty backup tapes were being sent off site. Periodic testing of backup media is a critical piece of the DR program.

Supplier agreements and partnerships

Two recent clients, both institutions of higher education with limited resources, have agreed to house each other’s DR infrastructure -- unfortunately they’re in the same city and on the same power grid.  Ideally, your DR infrastructure site would not be impacted by the same events (flood, power outage, etc.) as your primary site.

To learn more about disaster recovery and seek help with your own DR plan, get in touch.