If you live in the Mid-Atlantic region, then you might not be reading this blog on the Monday it was (hopefully!) posted. A freak and unpredicted storm ripped through the region Friday night − an effect of the 100+ heat and no breezes to break up the high-pressure cell parked on the region. Power is now out for some 560,000 residents of the Baltimore area, and millions in the region. The people who lost their lives in the storm (13 as we post), are of course the greatest tragedy, and we wish strength for the families.
From the perspective of communication and technology, the storm knocked out servers at Amazon, Instagram, Pinterest, and Netflix, and the first two of that list especially struggled through the weekend. To make matters worse, the world’s tacked on an extra second on Saturday to account for irregularities in the earth’s rotation. Reddit, FourSquare, LinkedIn, and StumbleUpon were some of the highest-profile services to fall victim to the extra tick. What can be learned from all this mayhem?
Neither storms nor the earth’s warble can be eradicated, so the onus of responsibility relies on content providers and online services to be prepared with backups and redundancies. Poor Amazon lost a major server farm in the Mid-Atlantic, then lost its backup generator for a few hours. What can be more disturbing, though, is that . If those platform suffer disruption, the word can’t get out as quickly as might prove life-saving.
Which is why backups not only of information is critical, but also of services. Envision seriously what your organization would do if hit with a local or even intra-office disaster. Are you dependent on but one external hard drive to back up your nonprofit’s spreadsheets and donor lists? Do you have a communications plan if your organization need to keep on working when your cloud-storage service suffers outages from a storm hundreds of miles away? The hard fact is, a purchased ‘technology solution’ is only as good as the policies of the people who use it and the thought put into supporting it with other technologies. Even making secondary backups (backups of backups) can seem like a hassle in the midst of a busy schedule, but making time and space for such a hassle can mean responding in minutes, not days, to events like those that transpired around here this weekend.