Earthquake Preparedness

By Bob Johnson, CEO of ISWest

The recent Great California ShakeOut, a statewide exercise to help people and organizations prepare for major earthquakes, was a clear reminder of the tenuous area in which we live. While many people may deny that a natural disaster will occur with their “It won’t happen to me” attitude, most will readily agree that business disasters or business interruptions are part of doing business.

Earthquake Preparedness
Earthquake Preparedness

For companies that rely on computers and the internet as the foundation for their success, business continuity is crucial. Reams of research reflect the relationship between computers and internet connectivity going down, and companies going out of business.

Here are five recommendations developed by ISWest to ensure business continuity:

  1. Use an Uninterrupted Power Source (UPS) to ensure major or minor changes in power don’t bring down your system. These devices can cost anywhere from $100 to $40,000. A power surge protector only protects against surges or spikes in the electrical current, whereas a UPS protects against power loss. UPS, which uses batteries for power continuity, also helps extend the longevity of equipment since even minor power changes over time have a dramatic affect on computers’ wear.
  2. Use earthquake bracing. Many businesses don’t bother bracing the racks that hold their computer equipment. However, if even minor shaking occurs, racks can topple and wires can separate from their housing. A computer room rack that is not braced properly can wreck havoc on a business after an earthquake that has caused even minor damage. Bolting to the floor is not as reliable as bracing, especially if equipment is heavy at the top, which will cause the rack to begin to sway and snap the bolts.
  3. Back up your data out of state on a daily basis. ISWest, which provides secure environmentally controlled data centers, internet connectivity, and data and voice communications, backs up their clients’ data every day to Nevada. Although many companies back up data to a nearby second location, to ensure business continuity, companies should back up their data out of state.” Federal compliance with a various agencies dictates that a disaster recovery facility should be located 30 to 35 miles away from the company’s headquarters. ISWest, located in Agoura which has no fault lines, recommends that companies investigate earthquake fault lines when selecting their backup facility.
  4. Invest in a generator that automatically switches on when the power goes down. Since generators run on diesel, they must be located outside and require a number of permits from various agencies, including the AQMD, which monitors air quality. Generators can cost $500 to $120,000 depending on the size. In addition to a generator, an automatic transfer switch is necessary. This device transfers the power from the electrical grid to the generator. Automatic transfer switches can cost from $1,000 to $20,000.
  5. Develop a disaster recovery plan. Suppose you can’t get into your building because of a fire, a flood from a pipe burst or an earthquake. Your company, located in an unaffected area of the building, may be fine; however, officials have determined that no one is allowed into the structure. Businesses need to have instructions for their employees before a disaster on how they can access the companies’ computers and continue to work remotely. Companies that rely heavily on the internet and computers, oftentimes colocate their equipment to a colocation facility, such as ISWest.

While your business may not suffer from a natural disaster, chances are that every company will experience some type of business interruption where computers crash and the internet goes down. By following a few tips, you can ensure that your business interruptions are minimal and your company and your employees continue to operate. To help companies prepare for a disaster, ISWest is offering a free webinar on disaster preparedness on Thursday, October 27th from 11:30 AM to noon. To sign up, go to: https:// register/350922217.

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