U.S. Biz Lacked Blackout Plans

Companies hope to be better prepared for the next outage — which most believe will happen within 12 months.
Most companies were in the dark when it came to dealing with the blackout of August 2003, a survey from Info-Tech Research Group found. Research from the Ontario-based firm revealed that more than 60 percent of the 107 IT professionals from U.S. mid-sized companies that were queried did not have formal plans and procedures in place to deal with the power outage.

Survey participants saw the outage as a wake-up call, and they are taking steps to better prepare for the next blackout — which 82 percent believe will happen within the next 12 months. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) said that they were either going to create a new disaster recovery plan, or update an existing plan; 20 percent said that they were planning on purchasing a backup generator; and 18 percent said that they were going to review their agreements with their service providers.

"I think that this blackout demonstrated that most IT departments, especially those in mid-sized companies, are still flying by the seat of their pants," said Jason Livingstone, analyst, Info-Tech Research Group. "Disaster recovery planning is simply not on their list of priorities."

The survey also revealed communication issues within some organizations: while 76 percent of IT managers said that the blackout had an impact on their company, 67 percent of them said that it had no financial impact whatsoever, and 13 percent of the respondents said that the blackout cost their organization more than $5 million dollars.

The Web fared well during the blackout, with Keynote reporting that all major U.S. Internet backbones from the 25 largest U.S. metropolitan areas were not showing any difficulties during the outage, and major Web sites remained accessible and at their normal performance levels.

"As is true of the telephone system, the Internet and major Web sites have been engineered with redundancy and backup power systems to withstand power outages," said Eric Siegel, principal Internet analyst at Keynote. "Its not surprising that a power outage, no matter how widespread, didn't appreciably affect the Internet and the Web."

Siegel noted that as long as there wasn't major physical damage, the Internet had enough resilience to withstand most problems.






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