Hurricane Harvey

Uncle Harvey, is gone but the cleanup and recovery has just started. Needless to say it will not be easy. Having had to do this exact recover once before in Houston I feel I might have some advice for those in IT looking at this daunting prospect. So below I will try publishing a series of articles that may or may not be helpful. As always my advice and opinions are worth exactly what you paid for them.


Helping Houston Information Technology

Now that the floods have receded, its time to start putting the city and the business back together. Primary to most of them will be the Information Technology infrastructure. Having survived many of these events in the past and recovering many companies, I thought I would take a moment to share my thoughts on these processes. While a lot of companies will have an active and useful disaster recovery plan, its important to note that a lot will either have no plan or, a plan that has never been tested and does not work. Even if the company has a fully established and tested plan, the outline of support will still apply.

This support will come in 3 phases.
1. The data recovery phase.
2. The Emergency run phase.
3. The full recovery phase.

In the first phase, most of us will find ourselves looking at the data backup in 1 of 3 forms, Hard drive, tape, or cloud. No matter the form we find ourselves looking at we will need to recover it to a working platform. Even if your lucky enough to work for a company with a full DR, BC tested plan, you will need to recover your data someplace to working infrastructure. You may find it expedient to use AWS or Rackspace, but now is also a good time to give some thoughts to using a private cloud vendor, such as OnRamp in Austin. This could be especially true if your needing to run in a more secure environment such as HIPPA. While OnRamp is certainly, not the only choice available, they do have a staffed Help-desk willing to take most of the load of recovery off of your shoulders, so you can start to work on phase 2. Remember you may need to change your DNS settings to reflect your new hosted environment.

In phase 2, you will need to provide a way for key elements in your company to access the systems you are presently hosting virtually. Assuming your office space is not in a state for human habitation, most of your thought workers will be at home or other locations. The big problem in this situation is preventing your thought workers from “bringing the data local”. In situations like this its seems very easy for the head accountant to simply “spin up” a copy of the accounting software on his/her laptop and start back to work. The dangers to this is twofold/ First the company data is now out of the control of the IT department and all security safeguards now rest on one uncontrolled laptop. Two, at some point the data on the laptop must be re-merged with the company database, often at great expense, and potential data loss. This is true for any and all corporate systems, not just the accounting system. I recommend you attach an extra virtual server to your restored data server, to use as a virtual desktop as a service server. By using some new products on the market you can quickly, easily and cheaply ( as little as $1,500.00 per unlimited user licenses ), give all of your connected users access to the systems required, as long as they have a phone, tablet, or laptop, and access to the internet. In this way you can maintain control over your corporate data while easily adding people to the system as they come back online.

Full recovery, is the hardest and longest part of the process. Now is a great time to think carefully about the systems and processes that really need to come back local, and the ones that can stay virtual. Often SCADA systems and manufacturing systems will be required to come back into the complex. However do you really need to bring the exchange server back? Isn’t now a good time to push forward the Office 365 migration? I know your office is in chaos, but this is a great time to make chaotic moves.

As always if you need and help at all please call us at