In emergency situations, we always hope for the best and plan for the worst. Last month, Onepath’s North Andover office found itself in a terrifying situation when a series of gas explosions wreaked havoc on residents of Boston.
“At first, I was completely unaware of the emergency,” says MJ Shoer, Director of Client Engagement at Onepath’s North Andover office. “I looked out the window and saw streams of smoke. There were four to six news helicopters outside and you could hear a bunch of sirens but, honestly, we didn’t think much about it at first.”
Several minutes later, Shoer’s daughter called to ask her father if he had evacuated the office, and that’s when he heard the news. Shoer immediately called for an evacuation, and the Andover team was able to quickly get out of the building and continue to monitor systems from their homes.
When electric utilities began to shut power down across large swatches of Andover, North Andover and South Lawrence, Onepath continued their operations without interruption.
“I’m proud that the Onepath team was able to effectively and efficiently move into disaster recovery mode and take care of our internal operations as well as our client’s information technology needs during this very difficult situation,” says Sean Vojtasko, Executive Vice President of IT Services.
Onepath owes the success of this situation to having a solid disaster plan in place. All businesses need a disaster plan, so that when tough decisions need to be made, there’s no time spent second guessing.
Here are 3 tips on how to prepare your business for a disaster:
1. Move Your Critical Systems to the Cloud
Evacuating your office is easy when your critical systems work freely from the infrastructure. Onepath’s on-premise infrastructure serves solely as a way to connect to the internet, and drive printers and monitors. All ticketing, billing, and phone tools live in a secure, premier datacenter with massive generation capabilities that could survive an extended power outage.
Onepath can work freely without an actual physical office, because all critical systems are fully accessible through remote portals with secure connections.
Keeping critical systems in a cloud data center is as secure as you can get, as they are extremely secure, unmarked buildings that use badges and biometrics for entry. The amount of redundancy and power in data centers is so substantial, it would take a truly catastrophic event of untold proportions to take it offline.
2. Establish a Clear Chain of Communication
When disaster strikes, there’s little time to decide who the decision makers will be. Decide who will communicate internally and externally, so you can get the message out to your teams and clients as quickly as possible. Designate someone to make real-time updates to let people know exactly what’s happening and how you’re responding.
In an emergency, email and text becomes more reliable than traditional telecom as voice networks become jammed with traffic. Ensure that in an emergency situation, you have a way to provide email and text updates to clients and staff.
3. Leverage Geographic Redundancy
If you have offices in different geographical regions, move your critical systems to public cloud and/or private cloud data centers to provide overflow coverage during a disaster and seamlessly replicate across multiple geographies.
This is possible even if you don’t have another office, as you can pay a third party to replicate your systems elsewhere.
In a disaster situation, an air-tight disaster recovery plan allows you to make lightning fast decisions that could could cost your business money and the safety of your employees. Draft a disaster recovery plan and educate your staff on procedure. Use your new plan to embed confidence in your team and clients that, in the event of an emergency, you’re prepared for the worst.