DR/BC Hurricane Harvey Lessons Learned

Breath and depth of Hurricane Harvey was beyond the scope of many disaster recovery and business continuity plans

Disaster Recovery Business Continuity TemplateThe breadth and depth of damage associated with Hurricane Harvey is a reminder of the importance of developing, maintaining, and exercising corporate-level crisis management, emergency response, and business continuity plans. Add to those facts that many organizations depend on data centers located in Texas. Currently there were over 40 collocation data centers in Houston.

Many of these were impacted by  the hurricane and subsequent floods. Plus, with the close of major highways Dallas data centers were impacted as well.  If your DR/BC service provider depended on those sites your existing DR/BC plan would not be operational.  In addition, almost 100% of key staff and resources were dedicated to enterprises directly impacted by Hurricane Harvey (HH).

Three days after HH, none of the co-location data centers had updated the status of their facilities on  their web sites. Of the 15 (out of 40) we tried to call only two answered their phones.  This highlights the things that were missed by these providers:

Why DR and BC plans fail

  • Crisis communications: During the event, the core messages and communications to employees, customers, investors, and the media were lacking.
  • Business continuity: Many plans did not account for the management and logistical process for continuing or resuming, and recovering interrupted critical business functions.
  • Crisis management: They did not move quickly and efficiently to implement your crisis management plan and teams to pro actively understand the potential impacts to people, property, and operations, and make policy/strategy decisions to address and manage those impacts.
  • Information technology/disaster recovery: Recovery should include ensuring the availability of networks, applications, and data. This will help support business continuity, including work-from-home and other strategies,  However with the amount of flooding and wind damage, this was not possible.

The effects of Harvey on people and businesses have been severe and will likely last for some time. But with hurricane season not yet over, C-Level executives should seek to apply the early lessons learned from Harvey and similar storms to minimize the impacts on your employees and operations.

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