Hurricane Season in the time of COVID-19

July 15, 2020

Hurricane season has arrived which brings with it a number of potential issues for U.S. businesses that already have been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. A hurricane can result in billions of dollars in losses. Last year, Hurricane Dorian resulted in 83 deaths and $10 billion in losses across the Caribbean, the United States and Canada. According to a 2020 AON study, just $3.5 billion was recovered through insurance.

Hurricanes not only often result in the loss of critical services such as power and communications, but companies may also find it difficult for essential personnel to travel.

On the upside, however, hurricanes are also slow-moving events, and weather services do an excellent job keeping the public aware of when and where a hurricane may hit. This generally gives companies a few days to execute their disaster recovery plan and make the final arrangements necessary to protect their employees and assets, including critical IT infrastructure and data.

According to a 2019 IDC Data Protection Services Survey,

  • 91% of organizations have experienced a tech-related business disruption in the past two years
  • 56% of organizations have experienced an event in the past three years that resulted in unrecoverable data.

Comprehensive integrated disaster planning

In light of these statistics, the need for a comprehensive integrated disaster recovery plan (DR) cannot be overstated, including ensuring your critical information systems are available and secure throughout the duration of the storm and its aftermath.

For example, if your company operates in a region prone to hurricanes, you may want to consider a business partner that offers disaster recovery services and data centers that designed, operated, and tested to maintain critical operations under the most adverse conditions.

Unfortunately, not all organizations have the necessary budget, expertise, or time to design and execute all elements required for a DR plan that fail-proofs their business—much less regularly test it for disaster readiness.

Disaster Recovery as a Service

These limitations have led to the rise of Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS). Businesses increasingly turn to DRaaS to ensure business continuity in the face of a natural disaster or other deleterious event. With DRaaS, IT professionals can fail-safe their business-critical data, applications, and systems by working with a third-party service provider to deploy continuous replication of their IT infrastructure to a safe, secure, and dynamic cloud.

In implementing a DRaaS strategy, disaster planning and IT professionals should evaluate unique business needs and expectations, potential technological growth, and the business’ tolerance for recovery time objectives and restore point objectives, and then find a service provider that is able to craft a solution that meets both current and possible future business needs.

A robust DRaaS provider will offer the following features:

  • 24/7 “forever” support and guided process to help customers during a disaster declaration
  • Professional services team on staff to support DR readiness and complete end-to-end DR design
  • Portal with operational metrics, real-time status information and self-testing capabilities
  • Strategically located DR centers providing coverage near metropolitan areas
  • Support for on-premise, colocation and cloud environments
  • Near real-time replication of data
  • Recovery journals allowing up to 30 days point-in-time recovery

DRaaS providers are considered essential infrastructure services and are required to operate at full capacity with an experienced 24/7 staff which means that even if COVID-19 rules in your state prohibit your own IT team from working on site, you can rest assured that your backup team is in place and has you covered.

Protect people, then your data

As for hurricane season, remember than any disaster planning and business continuity plan should focus on securing the safety of people first. Once personnel safety is addressed, look at your most valuable assets and develop a comprehensive plan to protect them bearing in mind that hurricanes not only can cause flooding but also lead to fires due to damaged wiring and intermittent power surges.  For most modern enterprises, data is more valuable than gold. Protect people, then data, and then develop alternatives to keep people and data working no matter what is on the horizon.

David Kidd, Flexential

David Kidd

Senior Vice President, Governance, Risk and Compliance

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