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Volume 27, Issue 3

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Hurricane Sandy: More Reasons Why Distance Matters

Just 25 days after Hurricane Sandy devastated New Jersey, parts of Pennsylvania, and a good portion of the New York City metropolitan area, New Yorkers gathered to celebrate at the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade. New Yorkers are a resilient bunch, but the impact of the super storm will be felt for a long time.

Due to the area’s investment in internet infrastructure, New York City is home to many businesses, both large and small, that are dependent upon access to this communication grid. Whether the lights stayed on, the computers remained up, or the networks remained available, Hurricane Sandy impacted all of these businesses. Why? Because employees lost homes. Public transportation systems were in disarray. Fuel was rationed, and lines for fuel stretched for miles. Many individuals simply couldn’t get to work.

We’ve studied disasters enough to know that, regardless of where you live and regardless of what you do, it is not possible to prevent disasters from impacting your organization. But you can increase the probability that your business survives, by maintaining multiple offices and multiple data centers. Your organization’s probability of survival increases dramatically, the further apart your offices are. Hurricane Sandy’s winds spanned 1,100 miles, and its impact was felt in Jamaica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Haiti, Bermuda, Canada, and 24 states in the U.S. A good place for a second location of a New York-based business might be somewhere in Kansas.

Hurricane Sandy helped surface some of the risks associated with operating from a single region. These include:

1. Power outages can extend for hours, days, or weeks

2. Organizations may not have enough fuel on site to sustain power during an extended outage

3. Fuel may be in short supply and rationed after disasters

4. Employee movement may be significantly restricted

5. Public transportation systems may be impacted

All of this argues for a disaster recovery site that is a long distance, a very long distance, from the production data center.