September 09, 2020
Readiness and Support During a Hurricane
We're currently in hurricane season in the United States. As weather channels buzz with updates on tropical storms and hurricanes on both coasts, managed service providers (MSPs) in potentially impacted areas implement their disaster readiness and recovery plans. These strategic processes have many levels that cover both the MSP’s employees as well as their clients.
We asked MSPs with a wealth of experience in hurricane preparedness to share insights into their processes and tactics for getting through hurricane season successfully. Our second blog was submitted by Craig Lojewski, Co-Founder and CEO of C2 Computer Services.
Prepare and Communicate In a Timely Fashion
Our hurricane preparedness process starts on June 1st when Hurricane Season begins, and we stay vigilant until the end of November. Our first step is to review our preparedness and disaster recovery plan annually and make updates if needed. During the entire season, communication with our employees and clients is paramount. We monitor the National Hurricane Center (NOAA) website daily and if we are in the cone of a potential hurricane, we have two communications paths available to send out. The communications sent are dependent on the storm's strength and the level of warning from NOAA.
- Hurricane Watch - We email all customers, alerting them that our team will be available for any onsite needs until the announcement of a Hurricane Warning.
- Hurricane Warning – We email all customers that we are no longer able to come onsite. If support is needed, our team responds as quickly as possible, remotely, and by phone until we are clear to go back onsite.
Put Clear Processes in Place
Internally, we remind our staff to review our readiness plan and prepare personally (water, batteries, fuel, generator, etc.). We also ensure our team has the tools and resources to work remotely and without power. We can do this by providing team members with solar-powered battery chargers capable of charging cell phones and laptops and cell phone hotspots to utilize for power and internet service. Providing cell service remains in-tact.
We provide a Hurricane Preparedness Guide to all of our customers and encourage them to make it their own, which many have done. We then work with our customers to review, update, and improve their plan. Again, communication is critical. We reach out to all of our customers with a similar reminder to review their DR plans and alert us of any changes that would affect our ability to support them. We reassure our customers that we will continue to manage and test their backups and restore points.
As the storm approaches, we send another email to our customers with a reminder that once a Hurricane Warning is issued, we will not be available to come onsite until after the storm passes, and it's safe to travel. For some of our clients, shutting down their systems is the best option if we know a storm is imminent. We have a method to ensure the shutdown is done safely and successfully and provide each impacted client with a checklist. As we move into the Hurricane Warning status, we reach out to those customers to coordinate shutdown timing.
Support During the Storm
During a hurricane, our team has been faced with many challenges, including loss of power, internet, and phone. Since we are a virtual company, our team always works remotely from home offices. If we have access to email or cell service, we remain dedicated to answering and responding to client needs accordingly. While we won't go onsite during a storm, we respond remotely as quickly as possible to ensure employee and client safety.
One key ingredient in our plan and the most essential service we provide to our customers is our Datto BCDR solution. This solution gives our customers and us tremendous peace of mind before, during, and after Hurricane Season.
I'd share one piece of advice with my fellow MSPs impacted by these tropical storms and hurricanes: Have a plan. Having a plan ready to execute for yourself and your customers is worth its weight in gold. It is always a work in progress, so don't worry if you don't have all the answers right off the bat. Even if you've never had a fully developed plan, get started. Put a process into writing to share with your staff and customers as a starting place.
For managed service providers, disaster recovery (DR) testing should be considered essential. Regular testing is the only way to be certain you can restore customer operations quickly following an outage as the result of a tropical storm or hurricane. Check out our eBook, Disaster Recovery Testing Made MSPeasy to learn about the benefits of DR testing.