Disaster Recovery When the Earth Quakes

The 1906 earthquake that rocked the city of San Francisco shook the ground for less than a minute and left disaster in its wake that lasted for nearly a decade. There was an estimated $500 million in property damage (over $6 billion in 2016 currency) in San Francisco and surrounding communities. Research and analysis revealed that the 7.9 magnitude quake and resulting fire that ravaged the city leveled an estimated 28,000 buildings, evacuated half the population, and left 225,000 people homeless; raging fires destroyed 490 city blocks when the city’s water pressure collapsed; and crowds left San Francisco, carrying what personal belongings they could hold.

Rebuilding began almost immediately, and by 1909, just three years later, 25,000 new buildings had been constructed to meet strict new fire codes. Nine years after the earthquake, in 1915, the city declared itself “recovered.” It celebrated by opening the glamorous Panama–Pacific International Exposition, with acres of pastel domes and towers erected on the rubble of the earthquake, including Bernard Maybeck’s ornate Palace of Fine Arts, which still stands in San Francisco’s Marina district.

Cascade to Catastrophe
But what if it history repeats itself? Another major earthquake could happen anytime in the earthquake-prone San Francisco Bay Area. This is considered one of the highest seismic risk regions in the United States, with a dense population and an aging infrastructure on top of active fault lines.

Risk estimates show that earthquake-related damages today could rise as high as $260 billion or more in San Francisco alone, as the population has grown exponentially and the infrastructure and technology have expanded. In the event of an earthquake, there are a number of possible scenarios, including:

● Data Center infrastructure going offline, impacting revenue-generating applications or websites and internal communications
Computer, phone, and Internet services being severely disrupted
● Businesses shutting down for several weeks as core infrastructure like data centers and network switches are out of service. This would affect both back-end services (e.g. email and inventory management) and front-end services (e.g. websites and credit card transactions), rendering many companies unable to operate.
● Transit and physical infrastructure being damaged or destroyed. The busy ports of San Francisco and Oakland—and areas built on landfill, such as the Marina district—would likely suffer liquefaction damage.

Are You Prepared If the Big One Hits?
Savvy businesses recognize that they must combine people, business processes, and technology to safeguard their data centers and corporate assets in the event of an earthquake or other natural disaster. Starting with an assessment of current business practices and budgets, the goal is to create a strong Disaster Recovery plan, with redundancies for data storage and a blueprint of consistent best practices to use in a worst-case scenario. A strong IT Disaster Recovery plan should involve:

● Auditing current business processes and resources
● Setting IT guidelines for tolerable downtime and data loss on a workload-by-workload basis
● Establishing cloud, virtual, and off-site data repositories that meet the recovery objectives
● Implementing storage and virtual replication technology as well as runbook automation solutions
● Establishing protocols for C-suite oversight
● Testing failover plans in a staged environment

Having a plan in place and the technology infrastructure to facilitate that plan can help get a business back up and functioning in a shorter amount of time—meaning fewer resources expended and less money spent in the recovery stage.

Reliable Disaster Recovery Solutions from VMware
VMware’s rapidly growing global business drove the need for a simple, reliable IT Disaster Recovery plan to protect assets in the event of an earthquake or other disaster. Today, VMware utilizes and offers easy and affordable disaster recovery solutions to protect critical business information in the event that any disaster strikes:

● Private Cloud Disaster Recovery. A portfolio of products that includes replication and disaster recovery orchestration and software-defined storage.
Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service. Cloud-based, native asynchronous replication and recovery capabilities.

Disaster Recovery planning is a business imperative in a world of both natural and manmade disasters. Virtualization and cloud computing now make it possible to have a simple, reliable Disaster Recovery plan—one that includes redundancy, high availability, replication, and recovery of stored assets. In today’s ever changing business and physical environment, companies must continue to be more agile and responsive to the constant flux of conditions and prepare for the possible.