While this blog has previously discussed the benefits of having a business continuity plan in place prior to major disasters, the need for a comprehensive risk management assessment is especially necessary in a digital age.
Hurricane Sandy, part of the "Frankenstorm" that was compared to 1991's "Perfect Storm," released ferocious wind and rain on the United States' Eastern Seaboard earlier this week. Homes and businesses were hit especially hard in New York City. For example, the hub of sites in the Gawker Media network, including Jezebel and Gizmodo went dark. The Huffington Post and Buzzfeed – a social media site – were also temporarily offline.
"At 8 p.m. on Monday, our primary datacenter suffered a catastrophic failure of its backup generator systems due to the blackout from Sandy," read a statement posted on October 30 on the Huffington Post homepage. "After sporadic downtime, the tech teams restored full service via our backup datacenter. At approximately 3:30 a.m. network connectivity failed at the backup datacenter when all three of its providers each separately failed."
In an effort to stay connected and keep readers updated on the storm, Buzzfeed turned to Tumblr and a content delivery network, Akamai, which hosts the content at servers distributed around the world.
According to a post on its Tumblr page, Buzzfeed – along with the Huffington Post and Gawker – uses a server host called Datagram, whose offices on Whitehall Street were flooded.
The more comprehensive business continuity plans will account for a plethora of situations. While no one can fully predict the full impact that Mother Nature can have, sometimes, one backup plan is not enough. Even in a digital age, when some companies rely on cloud computing for data storage, if a data center is compromised, then an organization is still disconnected.
Business continuity consultants can help prepare for a multitude of outcomes. Mother Nature is notoriously unpredictable, but even so, comprehensive continuity of operations planning will help the recovery process.