Post-tropical storm Sandy thrashed the East Coast on Monday and early Tuesday forcing hundreds of thousands of people to leave their homes, killing power to millions of homes, and wiping out a good portion of the Jersey Shore. Businesses struggled to keep the lights on as electricity and Internet access flickered on and off for most of Tuesday and Wednesday.
VSR reached out to solution providers, MSPs and ISVs in the area and afar to find out what contingency plans they have in effect for Sandy and similar storms and how they help their customers recover in the event of a natural disaster.
"I think communication, early and often is key," said Exigent Technologies' Daniel Haurey. "As soon as we found out that Sandy was going to be a significant weather event, we started contacting our customers to assure them that we were taking necessary steps to be here for them as they needed us. This meant testing our own disaster recovery plans and systems as well. In addition to phone calls, we also sent out an e-mail blast and started updating customers with Tweets and Facebook pages."
While there isn't much a VAR can do to help clients that have been tossed off the grid due to major power loss, these types of storms reinforce the need for a back-up and disaster recovery strategy that incorporates local and remote data redundancy.
"Before the hurricane hits, we offer remote and off-site backup to clients in low-lying areas," said Ed Ip of New York-based POS VAR IUG Business Solutions. "We arranged our techs to visit or contact our high risk clients that have service agreements with us to relocate servers and perform Local backups—just as an added level of service."
Barcoding Inc. currently stocks and have provides a significant number of devices for disaster recovery. "We actually have over 1000 units in our inventory," said Jay Steinmetz of Barcoding Inc. "Working with a partner and our client we have built a solution that interfaces and communicates with a third-party Geiger counter."
If a user with this radiation reading device detects radiation it pulls the GPS coordinates, asks the user a series of questions and sends the completed data back to the host system so it can block off necessary streets on a map for emergency response. "We have tools to also build quick applications to collect information related to what was damaged in a particular event," Steinmetz said.
While Chicago avoided Sandy's wraith, the city is no stranger to storms. "Often, customers have power loss and we expect high service call volume, and put in long hours to be there for our customers," said Kelli Stewart of Advanced Data Systems. "We offer 24-7 service, both remotely and onsite."
Hardware guys and MSPs aren't the only ones working overtime during the hurricane. Software providers such as CAP Software also help their customers overcome the storm.
"We provide a hosted backup and disaster recovery service to assist customers not only with safeguarding their vital business data, but with application reinstallation and system restore services," said CAP's Will Atkinson. "We actively monitor our customer's backup accounts and help them make sure that they have a good backup every week, and then in the case of a disaster, all they have to do is contact us and a tech will hold their hand through reinstallation of their programs, and full restoration of their data. It just goes to show that no matter how bad the weather on the ground, it's always nice in the Cloud."
If you are a solution provider impacted by tropical storm Sandy and want to tell your story, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to hear from you.