No matter what standards and practices your company puts in place to maintain business continuity in the face of emergencies, Hurricane Katrina taught us all that Mother Nature has the final say. However, the lessons that we can all take from that devastating tragedy can help every business stand stronger in the face of even the most debilitating events, especially if you do business in New Orleans.
How Did Successful Businesses Weather Hurricane Katrina?
Much of the total business continuity issues in New Orleans during Katrina came as a result of the continuity issues present in the financial industry. Banks responded by finding ways to take checks from people outside of their customer base. Other businesses followed the example and began to band together, offering free services and bartering services to each other in order to keep as much business continuity as possible. Certain communities created a pseudo-currency of “favors” that actually worked quite well for pulling communities together after the worst was over.
Business IT During Katrina
Business IT was just as important as finances during Katrina, and the same group efforts were required in order to keep companies afloat, literally and figuratively. However, solutions within the IT industry were accomplished much more easily because of the virtual technologies that companies already employed for data storage and intellectual property protection.
Virtualization, cloud services and remote server acumen were all tested during Katrina, and the infrastructure was surprisingly solid. Companies who had already committed to the advantageous reach of remote and virtual servers and hard drives found their information virtually untouched, safe within the physical walls of a piece of hardware miles away from the storm. Those companies without virtual or cloud based services were lent those services from the companies with access, allowing them the ability to maintain their records and documents no matter what happened to their physical offices.
Current Disaster Procedures
Finance and IT in New Orleans during Katrina both benefited from virtual technology and remote IT, mostly by accident. There are now backup systems being set up based around group infrastructures so that the procedures found through necessity may now occur on purpose. The government has become involved, although not to the extent that some in the private business community would like. However, business leaders in the area have more than enough technical infrastructure to deal with any information disasters that would occur in the future.
Learning From Katrina
If you are in the New Orleans business community, it would behoove you to have a virtual backup for data protection, even if you keep your information in a traditional way on a day-to-day basis. Although cloud virtualization options are now less expensive and more expansive than keeping hardware in your office, some businesses are hard pressed to move themselves into the new generation. If Katrina has taught you anything, it is that you must consider all options no matter your preferences, if one option decisively wins over another in a documented situation.
Your business should also employ and practice internal procedures for protecting data and hardware. Disaster drills must be created for a specific location and consider all relevant factors, including the surrounding infrastructure. If you do not have the IT know-how to create these drills and infrastructure yourself, you should partner with a business that does.
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