Disaster planning: Raiding the vending machines

In my unofficial, decidedly unscientific poll, I asked "what's in your disaster recovery plan?" Here's the results. Thirty-nine percent said they have backup software with off-site storage, and a surprising 18 percent responded that they didn't have one at all. Another 18 percent have backup software only, and just 16 percent have a fully redundant computer environment. Ten percent of you wise guys took the last option I gave, saying that your disaster recovery plan consisted of "hip boots and forty cases of canned goods."

I joke about the canned goods, but in all seriousness, that's really part of it too. If you get snowed in at the office, raiding the vending machines will only go so far. Readers of ITWorld (except for the ten percent) tend to think of disaster planning in terms of software, backup storage, redundant servers and the like, but there's a lot more to it. I propose that disaster planning consists of four elements:

1. Technology

2. People

3. Facilities and emergency supplies

4. Planning and strategy

We all know the technology end of it. That's where the backup software, the redundant servers, and the offsite storage comes in. But who's going to be around to run that technology when disaster strikes? The second element--people--is critical. Your people may not be able to make it into the office, or worse, they may be stuck there and unable to get out. And that leads us to #3, the hip boots and forty cases of canned goods category. (See, and you all thought I was joking when I included that in my poll!) Those of us who live in tornado-prone regions of the country all have an emergency box in the basement at home, or at least, we tell everybody we're getting around to putting one together. The "emergency box" applies to the office as well, and it needs to accommodate a lot more people. Throw in some batteries, flashlights, emergency food and water, a radio, and an old-fashioned non-electric phone just in case the power is out but the phone service is still in place. On the latter item, most offices have more advanced telephones, which are electric--but your standard, basic ten dollar phone from the drugstore still runs off the power that comes out of the phone jack, and this is the only type of phone that works when the power's out.

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