Recovering from Katrina

Recovering from Katrina

Summary: Katrina has taken a terrible toll in human life and devastated communities. In the aftermath of the disaster, recovery firms are helping getting business back online.

TOPICS: Laptops

Katrina has taken a terrible toll in human life and devastated communities. In the aftermath of the disaster, recovery firms are helping getting business back online. The effectiveness of business continuity plans and the best laid disaster recovery systems are being put to the ultimate test. Given that Katrina won't be the last natural disaster to visit communities, it's worthwhile to check out the Sans Institute set of guidelines for businesses facing hurricanes or other impending disaster conditions:

Local IT staff

- Work with local building management to coordinate building shutdowns. Be aware that most buildings will begin shutdown procedures when a Hurricane Warning is issued. (If they say power is going off at 1:00 pm that means power is shutdown at that time not that they are starting to shutdown.) Coordinate with firm wide IT to begin systems shutdown 30 minutes prior to building shutdowns.
- Work with local managers and share any information with Firm wide IT.
- Loaner laptops should be issued to key personnel that do not have laptops.
- Keep a loaner laptop that contains Ghost images for desktops/laptops.
- Ensure you have updated your contact information in the IT Contacts.

Firm wide IT

- Perform a full backup of all systems 4 days prior to the impact of the storm unless already scheduled. Have backups sent off site. (Be aware that UPS, FedEx, etc will stop shipments prior to the hurricane's impact.)
- Perform incremental backups every night prior to storm and have them sent off site.
- Perform Full backup prior to storm impact if possible. Have local IT retain control.
- Once building power is shutdown redirect the main numbers for the affected offices to an offsite voicemail box. (This eliminates busy signals and you can notify clients of the offices' status.)
- Update Office Closure hotline as the situation changes.
- Update Intranet with Hurricane updates for offices in unaffected regions.
- Prepare alternate procedures for the firm wide helpdesk.
- Get any necessary equipment into or out off the offsite datacenters. (Be aware the datacenter will not allow access 48 hours prior to the storm making landfall in the area and will not resume until the local authorities have deemed it safe to travel)
- Wrap critical systems that are located in the affected offices in plastic to help reduce water damage.

Newsweek online (at MSNBC) has a list of organizations--such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army--suggested by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) that are taking donations that will go to victims of the hurricane.  

Topic: Laptops

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  • I object!

    Never before in the history of mankind has there been SO MUCH advance warning of a disaster. I read many good articles about how New Orleans was a sitting duck and that steps were NEVER taken to fix the problems. Earthen levees that were built in the 30's and the destruction of mangroves and erosion of coastlines were OMINOUS warning sings that were ignored. Scientific American had a very thorough report on this within the last year.

    I can't feel sorry for stupid people given ample warning! You live below sea level (and sinking every year) and you don't invest in new technology such as levees and pump stations. SHAME ON YOU! You went cheap and paid dearly. I for one will NOT be giving you a helping hand. I say we forget about the whole city and leave "Lake Orleans" alone. Maybe "Big" and "Easy" SHOULD have been working smarter and harder.
    Roger Ramjet
    • I agree! Worse,

      people want everything but don't want to pay very much (if anything) for it. It's what we've been taught and one of the reasons who offshoring is supposedly good for the economy (and it isn't...)

      Not just that, the infantile, self-serving politicians/politics of the last 25 years (the alternative energy initiatives made during the first oil crisis, which in turn were nixed in 1982) have led us to become far more dependent on oil. The future for us who are living is starting to look dimmer too. (from fertilizer to storage to transit to shelving, oil is used in every stage... amongst MANY other things.)

      But we live in a society where people will spend asinine amounts of money on a house built on terraformed swampland. Assuming we're alive 30 years from now, when their houses sink back into the mushy ground, who's going to say "I told you so?"

      Katrina did to the very ground what our corporate sect has done to us. Erode our infrastructure.
      • I adgree/disagree

        Well corp. america has had its bad, it also has its good to group them all is just not wise its like saying all blacks are on wellfare, or all white people are rich. Building on swampland may not be the wises of choices but clearing forest for housing isnt good either seams like people just need to stop living and demanding products that are produced from oil (plastics etc) and the things that are produced from electricity dirived by oil (just about everything) what we need to do is go back to pre-industrial times, throw away your running water, and refridgeators, and heated homes, and live in grass huts with mud floors, and throw our wast into the streets. All this science (including the internet) has done nothing but lower the standard of living for everyone. Lets go back to the day where the strongest rule the weak and freedoms are dictated by relegious leaders that make up the rules as they see fit. Or we could Build one massive city in texas and put the worlds population in one area, leave the rest of the planet alone and institute a one child policy, take all the wealth away from the people that may or may not deserve it (doenst matter how hard they worked for it or if they choose to leave it to someone we all know that only the government know what is best for us) and redistribute it.

        Or we could recognize that we may not be perfect there is always room for improvement some people are good and some bad. The reality is Things could be a whole lot worse, we learn from experince, pain and that drives inovation and personal growth.
        • One more thing

          We need to stop caring about "the Paris Hilton world" At least actors or sports players do something, even though they produce entertainment. people like her do nothing besides lower the moral/ethical values of our society and devert attention to what is important. More people today read entertainment based gossip mags. then mags that focus on social issues, enviroment, public policy. Most college graduates don't even know who the sec of state is "Condoleezza Rice" it doenst matter if your a democrat or republican or independent we need to start activly taking part.
    • speaking of idiots................

      I think they ought to take you to new orleans with this post tatooed on your chest.
      • Why?

        He's right. My gut reaction when I first read the post was, "how can you say that given all these people have been through?" But when you think it through, you'll see taht what Roger said makes sense. The warning signs were there. They were ignored. That is directly the fault of the local politicians, hence the voters. That doesn't change the fact that I feel sorry for the victims (and I'll donate to the cause if I have any money left after filling my truck). On a personal note, I ha the pleasure of vacationing in the French Quarter for a week a few years back. It was an incredible experience. There was so much culture there. I wish them the best of luck in rebuilding, but I don't think they can recreate it completely. Oh, and I hope they put some more thought into the rebuilding. This WILL happen again. Maybe not for 100 years, but there will come a time...
        Real World
        • No he's NOT right

          The levees can handle but so much water. Please remember that all of the water draining 45 percent of this continent, from upstate Minnesota comes down the Mississippi and PASSES hrtough New Orleans.
          THAT'S A LOT OF WATER. Were the levees 30 feet higher, they could not have contained this storm.
          A lot of the water is water coming IN- its water that can't get OUT.

          And politics? Look at Washington. The levees are FEDERAL property owned and maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
      • You mean LAKE Orleans?

        The Dutch can make levees that hold back the North Sea. They understand the risk of living below sea level and take it seriously. They are in a CONSTANT vigil against the elements, and CONTINUOUSLY IMPROVE upon their infrastructure.

        Contrast that to the "Big Easy". The levees there were build by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 30s and 40s. They used dirt while the Dutch use steel and concrete. Gnar-lins has pump houses that are at least 40 years old - contrast that to the Dutch that have up-to-date pump houses that are tested all the time.

        Its too bad that history made "New Orleans" instead of "New Amsterdam". I wonder if "New" Orleans existed longer than the original Orleans . . .
        Roger Ramjet
        • Dutch Dykes

          This is a poor comparison; the Dutch system doesn't have to withstand Hurricanes and isn't as foolproof as you suggest.
          • Yikes Dikes!

            [This is a poor comparison; the Dutch system doesn't have to withstand Hurricanes and isn't as foolproof as you suggest.]

            North Sea storms can be pretty damaging. The point I was making was that the Dutch take things seriously - KNOWING they live below sea level. If we had invested a few bucks in a nice concrete and steel levee system, I'm sure the devastation would be much less.
            Roger Ramjet
    • Long Live the Mangroves!!

      Louisiana never had mongroves to destroy, it is cypress and pine swamps there.
      • I'm a scientist

        and ecology and environment are important to me. When you bulldoze the swamps, and the ocean erodes the resulting beaches - you KNOW you're in trouble. I WONDER how much money some company made to bulldoze those swamps? A couple of mil probably. How much damage did that cause to New Orleans? $100 billion? How smart was THAT move?
        Roger Ramjet
        • Re: I'm a scientist

          Roger I agree on the wetlands being a necessary buffer zone, I just keep hearing people talk about mangroves and have never seen any in the northern gulf, too cold in the winter I guess.
        • I'm a sensualist

          All your daughters and housemaids are belong to us!

          Jeff Spicoli

      This will be the new bumper sticker for the forseeable future and will help answer all the many questions about who is suffering, who is profiting, and who is simply an all-to-willing ignoramus as the next great energy crisis unfolds.

      This is not just about the distruction of New Orleans. This IS about "OMINOUS warning signs that were ignored" since 1970 and earlier. This IS about a nation of SUV owners who will soon discover bicycles because there is no cheap gas for ANYBODY ANYPLACE ANYMORE.

      PS: It is never wrong to feel compassion for those who have lost everything -- no matter whose "fault" is is on today's politically correct blame-o-meter.
    • Excuse me.

      Whata stupid, asine, juvinile,absent whine.
      I LIVE here asshole.
      I've lived on the Gulf Coast from Panama City to west of New Oleans for 30 years, so I've experienced lest see, 4 major Gulf hurricanes.
      We knew Thursday Katrina was in the guld we just did not know when and where it would hit. 50 miles with a Cat3 hurricane is a big difference.
      Do you have any ide what the terrain of coastal Louisiana and Mississippi is like? Much of it is uninhabited or sparly inhabited south of New Orleans . This storm covered an area from west of New Orleans to Mobile. For reference, thats atleast a 4 hour drive.

      Many, many people did evacuate. So didn't and some couldn't. The levees were not built to withstand a Cat 4 or a Cat 5 because those are under the jurisdiction of the Corps of Engineers- Federal property. This state and New Orleans has BEGGED for money to not build, but maintain the levees for years. Not a priority.

      We did not 'go cheap'. Please Roger, if you can discuss something intelligently and project some sensitivity towards already savaged people, then shut up. Were you within arms reach, I'd be force to slap you pimple infested face.

      Hope to see you guys at Mardi Gras next year...
  • Business resumption

    On a more helpful note to New Orleans IT....

    Disaster recovery, for better or ill, is now over. You either have your backup hardware and software running in an alternate location or you do not but are trying to get there.

    It's time to begin planning for business resumption.

    All indications are that physical recovery of the entire greater New Orleans area will be lengthy, expensive, difficult, and incomplete. You and your C-level executives need to contemplate a permanent alternate site for conducting business as well as holding your backup data, paper and electronic. You may need to operate the business out of that location for as long as it takes to restore your former offices, including all working infrastructure, which includes phone, datalines, roads, police, and fire-fighting capability. Otherwise you run the risk of restoring operations to a site very vulnerable to further disruptions, at an unknown but prohibitively great expense.

    You will (with any luck) never have a better opportunity to make your case for a business resumption plan. If your offices were in New Orleans they are not available today, and will not be for days or weeks to come. If your firm did not already have an alternate site you are living out of temporary data centers, laptops, home computers, or rented quarters and paying a large charge for doing so. You can also expect the cost to restore the former site to usefulness will be as great or greater than the original installation and wiring costs. The numbers are going to be stark: use them.

    Remember that this is only halfway through this year's hurricane season, and last year saw another storm nearly as devastating. How long can your company keep this up? Saving the data and the local data infrastructure from immediate loss is all well and good, but for a disaster taking days or weeks to end -- in terms of being able to resume business in the former location -- your firm's only home is planning for business resumption at some other secure location less expensive and more capable than what you are forced to use today.

    I know you're busy, and the cell phone batteries need recharging hourly, but this is the time to move to a business resumption plan that will save your firm this expense the next time. And there will be a next time. You can bank on it.
    • thank you

      for the intelligent post about business recovery.
  • Recovering from Katrina

    While acknowledging that ZDNet is an IT-focused publication, I'd like to reiterate to this audience what I and other busiesns continuity planning professionals have been saying for several years: unless your company is in the IT services industry, recovering the infrastructure, applications and data is not necessarily the answer. Often, for many firms, the most important infrastructure element is dial tone: they have to talk to customers, suppliers, media, stock analysts and, of course, shareholders. Yes, some processes are so wrapped into IT that the workforce has no clue how to put a manual workaround process together, but there are plantly of business operations that can actually be resumed with a stubby pencil and paper if it's really that important.

    Let's just remember to keep this in perspective: given the magnitude of devastation on human and geographic scales, there are bigger problems that cities like New Orleans need to address. And for executives considering where to locate their next headquarters or regional facility, this should serve as an object lesson.

    Gregg Jacobsen, President
    Association of Contingency Planners, Los Angeles Chapter
    • Object Lesson

      [And for executives considering where to locate their next headquarters or regional facility, this should serve as an object lesson.

      Gregg Jacobsen, President
      Association of Contingency Planners, Los Angeles Chapter]

      Yes this is a lesson that you need to stay away from sites that experience natural disasters - JUST LIKE LA! How about a nice city that has NO earthquakes, NO mudslides, NO wildfires, NO flooding, NO hurricanes, and very few damaging tornados? The city ALSO has a rich metropolitan area and a large educated workforce? AND the city has high unemployment so there's no tight supply of workers. Why not relocate to DETROIT? The big 3 run MANY datacenters here.
      Roger Ramjet