Using the Cloud During a Natural Disaster

Hurricane Sandy recently reminded us all how devastating a natural disaster can be. Sandy’s impact has proven to be more severe that originally predicted. From a business view-point (and I don’t mean to underplay the personal impact Sandy has had on individuals) the hurricane has left many companies with out access to their employees, resources and/or facilities.

This has, of course, pushed being prepared for natural disasters to top of mind. I recently ready an article, “The Cloud, Teleworking and Natural Cloud ComputingDisasters” by . I thought the article made some interesting points about the Clouds role in preparing for a natural disaster and provided a useful checklist to help you assess your companies status.

Lets start with the check list. Kidman suggested the following:

  • Do staff have fast enough internet access at home to reliably access work resources? “The NBN is going to be a great solution here,” Girard notes.
  • Have you set up sufficient permissions and security controls for external-facing resources?
  • Can browser-based systems be accessed on a variety of browsers?
  • Will your virtual private network (VPN) systems scale effectively when being used by the majority of employees, not just a subset?

This is a good list, but the article also asked some important questions.

1. How efficient is your solution? When it comes right down to it you want the end-user to have the same access to all applications, files and processes that they have when in the office. Can employees do everything at home that they can do in the office?

2. Has your solution be fully tested? It’s one thing to have 10% of your total workforce working at home at any given time. What happens when it’s 50%, 80% or 100%? Can the solution withstand that volume of usage?

3. What equipment will your employees be using? An iPad may be a good solution for an employee occasionally working at home but may not be efficient when a disaster occurs and employees find themselves working outside the office for an extended period of time. Does investing in devices for the home make sense or is a BYOD strategy for more cost-effective?

4. How will employees communicate with one another during a disaster? Will phones work? Is social media a potential solution for ongoing communication during this time?

The cloud, both public and private, provides excellent answers to all these questions.

The cloud can promote efficiencies in a way that “traditional” solutions can’t. For example can provide “public” cloud solutions that insures data and workflows are available from anywhere. Properly defining the roles within the org can limit access to date by job or function performed for the company.

The cloud can also more easily withstand an unexpected increase in usage. Many public cloud and SaaS solutions have built-in redundancies and multiple mirrored delivery centers that helps mitigate the impact of unexpected volume increases.

For my money BYOD has is extremely cost effective. It’s also more feasible as the clouds agnostic attitude towards browsers and devices make this more possible than ever.

Lastly the cloud offers several private “social networking” and communication solutions. Again,’s chatter is an excellent private social networking solution allows for the creation of smaller team focused social networking groups that may be more efficient… Or live chat may be an option.

For more details please read the article. I hope you enjoy it. I look forward to your feedback.

Ian Bellais
VP Strategic Development

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