MSPmentor Blog

Lessons from Mother Nature

We recently published a case study with our partner SNC Squared. As an MSP located in Joplin, Missouri, SNC Squared had a front row seat to the backup and disaster recovery show when one of the deadliest tornadoes in American history plowed through in May of 2011.

The tornado destroyed 8,000 homes and businesses, did nearly $3 billion in damage, and killed 160 people. SNC Squared found themselves setting up shop in CEO John Motazedi’s house and setting out to offer what help they could, both humanitarian and IT. Ultimately, because of the strength of their own disaster recovery plan and the solutions they set up for their clients, SNC Squared had all of their clients up and running in an incredible 72 business hours.

Stories like these are amazing, but it strikes me that the dramatic natural disaster is far from the typical problem most of us face every day. In fact, according to one report by the Aberdeen Group, only five percent of surveyed small businesses and nine percent of mid-sized businesses blamed natural disasters for any of their data loss. By far the most common cause of data loss in SMBs according to the report was power outages. Forty-eight percent of small businesses and 46 percent of mid-sized businesses cited this as a cause of data loss.

So if power outages (followed by accidental data deletion and employee error) are the biggest source of data loss, why does practically every data protection company out there (including StorageCraft), pepper their collateral, websites, and so on with images of violent storms, flooded server rooms, and lightning strikes so incredible they almost seem Photoshopped?

Of course, the obvious answer is that Mother Nature is much sexier than human nature. Lightning strikes and hurricanes are dramatic, primal images that evoke emotional reactions in us humans. A picture of a bunch of employees sitting around with the lights out may not have the same effect.

But John Motazedi’s and SNC Squared’s experience with the Joplin tornado suggest another reason natural disasters are (and probably should continue to be) the poster children of backup and disaster recovery.

A good disaster recovery plan has a lot of different parts, but when it comes down to it, a serious natural disaster tests all of them. A power outage is an annoyance, but an EF5 tornado exposes every weakness in your plan. It is the worst-case scenario.

This doesn’t mean our plans aren’t good or finished until we’ve suffered through the same crucible as Joplin, Missouri. It does mean that there’s real value as we prepare and upgrade our own plans in listening to the experiences of others who have.  There’s a lot to learn from the success (or failure) of others, especially when they’ve succeeded (or failed) in the most heinous of circumstances.

If we’re building our plans in isolation, we’re probably missing something. It’s easy to become isolated and insular, so when we’re fleshing out that recovery, we should consider looking beyond our own business. Get involved with IT communities online, read case studies like the SNC Squared one we just published, and find out what’s working for others out there.

A natural disaster will put you through your paces, but that doesn’t mean to you need to experience to learn the lessons it teaches. Building on the experiences of others will make sure that when the disaster does happen to you, whether it’s a tornado or a power outage, you’re ready to weather the storm.

Matt Rayback is a Marketing Writer at StorageCraft, which works closely with MSPs. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of MSPmentor’s annual platinum sponsorship. Read all of StorageCraft’s guest blogs here.

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