Disaster Recovery Thoughts on the Anniversary Year of Alaska’s Great Quake

Some of you may not be old enough to remember, but 50 years ago on March 27, 1964 at 5:36 PM, the most powerful earthquake in United States history – 9.2 on the Richter scale – laid Anchorage and Valdez, Alaska and the surrounding area to waste. While deaths were comparatively low by world disaster standards, the physical damage was catastrophic. Some of the devastation included (USGS):

  • 122 lives lost to the tsunami and 9 to earthquake, which is thanks in part to predominately wood structures and the fact that it was a holiday
  • $311 million in property losses ($2.3 billion today)
  • School system wiped out
  • The Turnagain Heights landslide destroyed 75 homes and was 130 acres wide
  • Water mains and gas, sewer, telephone, and electrical systems destroyed

Were that earthquake to happen today how would your business fare? Sadly, at least 40 percent of businesses affected by a disaster never reopen (Insurance Information Institute).Considering that four out of five earthquakes in the United States occur in Alaska (LiveScience), a disaster recovery plan may be in order.

Today, Forrester reports that 42% of companies are outsourcing disaster recovery services. For businesses that use their own internal data centers to house applications, backing up to public multi-tenant clouds offers a lower-cost, easy-to-deploy disaster recovery solution. Managed Service Providers, particularly those familiar with Anchorage and surroundings, can help build a custom DR plan that will ensure your critical data is protected far from fissures, tsunamis as well as any number of other natural disasters.

When you engage with a Disaster Recovery (DR) service provider, you’ll start by determining what data you need and how fast you need it to get back online. Your plan will, at the very least, include these four components:

  1. Data classification or tiering. Determine which applications and data get recovered first, second, and on down the line. Define the recovery point objective (RPO) and the recovery time objective (RTO) for each tier. Lower RPO-RTO = higher cost.
  2. Replication. Redundancy – having the same data in two places at once – is the most basic tenet of all disaster recovery plans. Your MSP will backup your data in a datacenter far from harm’s way.
  3. Timing. Specify how much data you need to recover, and how quickly, in order to get back up and running.
  4. Testing. You can’t over-test a disaster recovery plan. Simulate an earthquake situation with your MSP, then test the recovery process. Your MSP will recommend frequent testing.

The Small Business Disaster Preparedness Guide from the US Small Business Administration can help your business learn more about how to prepare and avoid data and hardware loss from a disaster. To best fortify your valuable IT infrastructure and data, don’t go at it alone and don’t wait! If this were hurricane country we would see it coming, but earthquakes provide no warning.

Call EMA to help you put a disaster recovery plan together now. Our experts in disaster recovery planning might not have been around in 1964, but they know how to keep your critical data and systems running when the next “big one” comes around.