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How to avoid a fiasco like the Delta system outage

How to avoid a fiasco like the Delta system outage 

The negative impact of the outage on Delta’s revenues will be “minimal,” according to Vinay Bhaskara, senior business analyst for Airways Magazine.

Each cancelled domestic flight could cost Delta as much as US$17,000 when related costs are factored in, he told BusinessInsider. Cancelled international flights could run up to $65,000 each.

However, the inconvenience suffered by Delta customers and the negative publicity attached to new coverage and social media comments about the event could have a more lasting impact on Delta’s image.

Lack of disaster preparation

In this age of automation, such disruptions are no longer isolated incidents.

For instance, in July, Southwest had to cancel 1,500 flights over a two-day period also due to a “system outage.”

Over the years, there have been a number of other businesses in various sectors that have had their operations halted due to computer systems failures or network outages.

It’s no surprise since, in a 2011 survey, security software firm Symantec found that a large number of businesses fail to make disaster preparedness their priority.

Symantec found that 57 per cent of small and medium-sized businesses do not have a disaster recovery plan to ensure that operations will be able to be resurrected rapidly in case of a network outage. Forty-one per cent said that it never occurred to them to put together a plan and 40 percent stated that disaster preparedness is not a priority for them.

Less than half of SMBs back up their data weekly or more frequently and only 23 percent back up daily.

How to avoid disruptions

The lesson here is that companies of any size should always prepare for full-on and partial disaster.

“Planning and executing disaster recovery exercises is something that should be done on a regular basis to find out these issues before they may be impactful,” said Mark Jaggers, a Gartner data center recovery, and continuity analyst told BusinessInsider. “The issue, which was also the case with Southwest Airlines, is not planning for partial failure scenarios that are harder to get to the root cause of and work around.”

Here are some of the basic things that businesses should consider:

  • Companies should make sure their data centre or data centre provider has backup power and networking. Ideally, the backup should be from a grid and provider that is far away from the primary power and networking source so that both are not affected by the same disaster.
  • Make sure the data centre staff is experienced in handling outages and other disasters.
  • Have a disaster recovery plan and make sure your management team and staff are familiar with it and regularly train on it.
  • Develop a system for disseminating accurate and necessary information among leadership teams, employees, public response units, and customers. The information should include: what is happening; what is the company doing to rectify the situation; assure people affected that the company sympathizes with them; and what can stakeholders or customers expect.

It is also important that disaster recovery plans are in sync with a company’s production and operations.

A good disaster recovery plan is not static. It should be continually and regularly revisited and updated as needed.

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