communications set up good place as we near These are lessons learned place now that allow us
for you. the three-year anniver- from Katrina. It was a to move forward after a
sary of the storm. We hard lesson, but I have catastrophe.
While you can assess your have some good tech- Hurricane 101 under my
physical infrastructure, in nology in place. Our belt right now. It showed So, for people reading this
your case you also had to infrastructure has been us what we had to do in article, what is the basic
think about your employ- rebuilt. We have also built preparation. We have a thing they need to learn
ees. They had left the scene. a wireless infrastructure. lot of good processes in [CONTINUED ON PAGE 38]
How do you figure your
employees into disaster
planning? We have and had a very HOW DO YOU DEFINE DISASTER?
unique hurricane preparedness plan. We had
this plan in place and
people knew where they
had to be and what jobs
they had and what their
roles were. We were able
to continue with the business of the city regardless
of what had occurred.
I’VE TALKED TO THE IN TERIM CTO OF THE CITY The Katrina disaster was unprec-of New Orleans as well as IT executives edented in scope, but natural disasters
involved in the banking industry. I’ve also are events we all must deal with.
had some e-mail from members of the Whether it be a hurricane, forest fire
military who have let me know that if I or winter blizzard, businesses will con-really want to know about disaster plan- stantly find themselves challenged to
ning, I should try running a communications keep their technology infrastructures
network in a war zone. up and available. One of the best les-
One of the big issues that I
think people forget is that
after the hurricane, it was
not like a lot of money flowed
into the city. You had to let go
of something like 70 percent
of your workers. How do you
That’s true. We had to lay
off like 75 percent of the
department. What we had
to do was work smarter
and faster and stronger
with less. We also had a
staff of contractors we
were using. But, yes, I
can attest that we had to
do more with less. We
had to be very smart with
our business processes
and had to automate a lot
of manual processes that
were in place.
Now, let’s take it up-to-date.
What is the current status of
the New Orleans technology
The city is in a pretty
The result of all that discussion is you sons I have learned from speaking with
can’t really plan for any specific disaster, CIOs and CTOs who have had to handle
but you can create a flexible, well-trained an IT disaster is that after the disaster
and well-drilled organization that can they continue to analyze what went
meet and overcome any obstacle that wrong, what they could do better and
comes its way. what new technology alternatives are
Too often disaster planning scenarios available.
concentrate on the physical infrastruc- The lessons can be summarized in a
ture. What happens if this server room few simple rules. First, have employees
goes dark or if that high-speed network you can count on. You do that by showing
suddenly has to be replaced with slow- you support employees through training
speed lines? What happens if this data and salaries, and by engaging them dur-
storage facility is no longer available or ing nondisaster periods. The employees
if a virus wipes out a critical business who run your systems will have the best
application? Those are all legitimate ideas about how to keep those systems
questions, but I think the real questions running when disaster strikes.
begin and end with people. The second lesson is to be thorough
Is your disaster recovery plan some- in your planning, but realize disaster by
thing that was created to satisfy a its very name is an unplanned event that
corporate requirement and now sits will stress the best of plans. Incorporate
gathering dust until, once a year, it is real-world events into your training and
opened and half-heartedly reviewed? realize that flexibility will often trump the
Or is your disaster planning a dynamic most structured plan.
process that includes the people who The third lesson is to read interviews,
will actually have to get your systems watch videos and get to know technology
up and running? How often do you executives who have encountered disas-
engage your staff in what-if scenarios? ters and kept the systems running. You
How often do you actually have a fire can learn more from a firsthand account
drill where key servers are downed and than from any dry textbook.
communication lines unplugged? —Eric Lundquist