Hurricane Katrina damage

Hurricane Katrina survivors share disaster recovery do’s and don’ts

When Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast some businesses were prepared, but many weren’t. With the benefit of hindsight organizations learned the hard way what works, what doesn’t, and what should have been done before Katrina to be properly prepared for a catastrophe of that magnitude.

I spoke with organizations around New Orleans to find out what business continuity and disaster recovery lessons they learned from Hurricane Katrina:

Ten years ago, the Gulf Coast was completely devastated by Hurricane Katrina, leaving thousands of businesses in New Orleans and the surrounding area under water and without power for weeks.

But while most disasters — natural or otherwise — can’t compare with the magnitude of Katrina, there were some hard lessons learned that could help organizations be better prepared for the next catastrophe.

IT leaders in New Orleans and nearby cities share how they maintained or resumed business operations in the wake of Katrina and what the experience taught them. Here are their disaster recovery do’s and don’ts — sage words of wisdom from the trenches.

1. Do have a written business continuity and disaster recovery plan

“Have a plan, and practice it before you actually need it,” says Vernon Decossas, CEO of DirectNIC, a domain name registration and web hosting service in New Orleans. DirectNIC was fortunate to be on the 11th floor — safe from the flooding that impacted most of the city — but still in the direct path of the hurricane. A DirectNIC employee live-blogged the harrowing experience.

DeCossas says DirectNIC’s support team was displaced and spread from New Orleans to Houston in the wake of Katrina. Learning from that experience, the company has since refined its business continuity and disaster recovery plan to ensure smooth-functioning support from remote locations. “Case in point, we still have an all-hands meeting at the beginning of hurricane season so that every employee knows what actions need to be taken, and [we give] a refresher on our various policies during and after a storm should it affect any locations,” he says.

IT operations for the city of New Orleans, located on a third floor, were also hit hard during the storm. Lamar Gardere, director of IT and innovation for thecity of New Orleans, learned the importance of having a written plan. “Document your equipment, document your environment’s configuration, document all vendor contracts and support agreements [including contact information], and make sure information is accessible to more than just one or two individuals,” he advises.

When it comes to business continuity and disaster recovery, the cloud is your friend. No matter where your primary office is physically located, business can continue if critical systems and data are running in the cloud. Gardere suggests that if your business doesn’t leverage the cloud for applications and data, you should at least have a secondary location — somewhere geographically separate from your primary site — where you can move to and resume operations in the event of a catastrophe.

See the complete list on Computerworld: 6 disaster recovery do’s and don’ts from Hurricane Katrina survivors.

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