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Business Continuity – We’re Here

By: on March 13, 2020 in Business Continuity, COVID-19, Disaster Recovery

If I think about it, my entire career has been based on business continuity (BC) – making sure that things are up and running after something happens. In our technology world, we generally break this down to two categories: high availability, which means you can survive a relatively local event, and disaster recovery, where you can survive something more catastrophic. The reasons we’ve all fretted about – server failure, flooding, tornadoes, tsunamis, ransomware, and things like them – now have a new player at the table, COVID-19. COVID-19 does not respect borders, how much is (or is not) in your bank account, etc.

Quite literally everyone on the planet has been affected by COVID-19 both personally and professionally. BC is in action, but not in a traditional way. Business is, for the most part, still happening. How it is being done is different and will be for the forseeable future.

Travel has morphed into essential only for most of us. Conferences, concerts, and sporting events are postponed or outright cancelled. Nearly every company is asking employees to work remotely/from home – even ones that have shunned it in the past. The ones that are still requiring employees to come into the office will be changing their tune soon and show how prepared – or not – they were if something happened that wasn’t COVID-19. In essence, businesses are exercising, to a degree, their BC plans. Nothing is good until you test it, right? Some are failing. A longtime friend’s company is still saying everyone needs to be in the office. Read the damn tea leaves. This isn’t rocket science or something just for tech companies. Get your head out of your proverbial rear end.

What people forget sometimes in our industry is that BC is largely about people, too. It’s not just about servers (physical or virtual) and its associated tech. This big shift in how we will all be interacting and working raises some interesting things to think about as well as questions.

  • Will broadband providers be able to provide good connectivity and throughput now that more people are home during the day? I know they see it at night, but we’re talking about 24×7 load now.
  • Will broadband providers enforce data caps or lift them? That will certainly hamper some who use data a lot for their daily needs (and I’m not talking streaming Disney +, Netflix, etc.).
  • How will this affect supply chains for everything? We’re in a global economy. What happens, for example, if your SAN has a failure and you can’t get a disk? Can someone even get to your data center to fix it even if you do have a spare?
  • As my friend Joey D’Antoni speculates, what does this mean for cloud providers like Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, and Google Cloud? Right now their capacity is fine, but what about six months from now? Would it be cheaper to provision a bit more now? I can’t say yes, but you do not want to run into what I saw at my local Target last night. Hoarding is not good (yes, even for toilet paper or paper towels) but being prepared is. There’s a big difference.
Empty shelves

Empty shelves of toilet paper and other essentials at Target in Watertown, MA, on March 12, 2020.

  • More importantly, after we’re on the other side of this – whatever that looks like – what will things look like both in our daily lives and our professional lives? Will it go back to the way it was or something completely different? Will in-person events such as conferences go back to the normal way of doing things? I will be at the rescheduled SQLBits this fall and hope to see you there.

Business continuity is all about planning and being prepared. SQLHA is poised to help you do that that today and tomorrow. It’s what we do. COVID-19 has not affected us working with our customers new and old. Remote working has always been in our DNA. Don’t get me wrong – I know I love going onsite; my status with American Airlines and Marriott hotels can attest to that. But that doesn’t mean I don’t equally enjoy working with our customers remotely. It’s still satisfying knowing you’ve helped someone out and they’re pleased as punch at the end result. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you are looking for some help.

Now to the human side of things …

I know the next little while will put a strain on everyone in different ways. Be safe, smart, and not a superhero. There’s a reason extreme measures like social distancing are being put in place. Be kind and understanding. Even if people are not affected from an illness standpoint directly, some businesses – especially small, local ones like restaurants, bars, and stores – will be affected. If there’s some place you like, find a way to support them, too. Have patience if you are going out locally to a store, especially to places like supermarkets and Target. The people there are stocking shelves as fast as they can. Please and thank you should be in your vocabulary. If you are still going out to eat or picking up food, leave a generous tip if you can. These workers will be hit hard if they are not already.

When not working, I play music. All of my rehearsals and the one concert I had upcoming have been postponed or cancelled (and for good reason). Same with concerts I have tickets for. Similar to my local business comment, the arts will be greatly affected during all of this. Please support your local arts community; they’ll need it. Not going to get on my high horse, but pay for a download or CD of your favorite artist. Buy or rent a movie; don’t torrent. Now more than ever the arts community will need your support.

EDIT: Also – be polite to reps on the phone if you are calling to cancel/change travel plans (hotel, car, air, whatever). The reps didn’t make the policies; they want to help you. Luckily most companies have altered policies for this extraordinary circumstance. Not only should you say please and thank you, but if you normally skip the end-of-call survey, please take it. The reps are dealing with a very difficult situation and it helps them. Understand they are facing a challenge; have empathy.

I could not have predicted a global event such as this; most are fairly regional in nature. Maybe this will wake up some companies that what I’ve been saying for so long was not hyperbole. We’ll see.


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