The Power of Planning and Execution

When Joe arrived at his office that afternoon things were in chaos! He had noticed during his lunch meeting that he hadn’t received any new E-mail messages on his smart phone in over an hour. He thought this was odd, but the moment he set foot through the door, he knew why. A single emergency light lit his path as he approached the commotion taking place in front of the office supply closet.

Joe realized that he was about to have a bad day. A water leak caused by a plugged condensation drain had found its way into the ceiling above his company’s supply closet, which also served as the file server room. The water must have been pooling on top of the ceiling tiles for days before one tile caved in, causing a gusher of stale water to rain down on fragile technology and communications systems. Circuit breakers had immediately cut power to the lights and some of the office equipment, but it was too late. The damage was done.

As he looked for someplace to sit down and think, the weight of the problem began to sink in. As the senior account manager for a small but prominent financial services firm, Joe NEEDS his E-mail, he NEEDS an Internet connection, and he NEEDS access to customer files and records to do his job! This tiny water leak, having gone unnoticed for days, had instantly crippled his ability to serve his clients.

“Why couldn’t the ceiling have leaked on the shelves storing the pens and highlighters and paper clips?” he thought to himself. “Those items are cheap and easily replaceable. Why did it have to ruin our computer network?” He immediately got a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach as he began to think about how much irreplaceable data might be lost. “This is NOT good!”

His thoughts were suddenly interrupted when the lights in the office came back on. Joe hadn’t noticed that his IT consultants had arrived, unplugged the water-damaged equipment and restored power. Work was underway to clean up the mess. Joe’s thoughts now went to how soon he could get back to business. His boss had worked with this IT consulting firm for years and had confidence in their ability to solve any problem, big or small. This was a BIG one, yet Joe was hopeful.

Fortunately, his firm had invested the time to develop a comprehensive Business Continuity Plan to deal with disasters such as this one. They recognized the potential consequences of a significant data loss. They had read and understood the study which confirmed that out of every 100 companies experiencing a “major loss” of computer records, 43 companies will never reopen, 51 will be closed within two years of the loss, and a mere 6 businesses will survive over the long-term. Joe’s firm had acted upon that knowledge and was now about to benefit from those efforts.

Joe couldn’t believe his good fortune! He watched with interest as the plan began to unfold. What he learned is that the firm’s IT support guys had put into operation a specialized data backup and virtual server appliance designed to reduce any server down time. The device had been located in another area of the office, away from the primary file server. The appliance had been backing up changes to data on the file server every 15 minutes since the day it was installed.

As a result, the appliance held an exact image of the file server just prior to the water disaster. It had also been moving that critical business data, in encrypted format, to an offsite file storage location every evening, just in case they needed to get access to the data from another location.

But that’s not all. The appliance was configured with modern virtual server technology which allowed it to be quickly reconfigured as a replacement server. The IT guys began that process immediately, and thirty minutes later this amazing appliance was operating as the company’s primary file server, running all of the applications and containing all of the data from earlier that day.

Joe would not have believed this remarkable story if he had not lived through it. Within an hour after walking into chaos, he was at his desk ready to begin reading E-mail and working with client data. There was still a wet mess in the supply closet, and he was a bit shaken by the drama, but Joe was on the phone, calling his best client. “Hey Kelly, what are you doing for data backup and business continuity? You’re not going to believe what just happened over here…”

Jeff Dettloff is the President and Chief Problem Solver for Providence Consulting, Lansing’s leading provider of advanced computer services and innovative technology solutions.

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