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A Week That Changed Everything

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I case you didn’t know, I’ve been on holiday since the beginning of April.  I was expecting (after two weeks of rest and relaxation) to be heading off to a new and potentially challenging piece of work.  Unfortunately that work is no longer there.  Not only is the work not there but neither am I – I’m still in the US with my family and can’t travel due to the restrictions in place on aircraft after the volcano eruption in Iceland.

In the space of less than a week, I’ve had to put contingency plans into place for both work and pleasure.  We’re lucky; we hadn’t left to go to the airport and so have managed to stay in our accommodation in San Diego.  A two week holiday will simply turn into three; school will have to wait for my wife and children.

As for work, I already have some contingency plans in place and things will work out.  But who could have thought such as “simple” natural phenomena could have ramifications for the whole world?

The People Problem

For the UK and most of Europe the last two weeks have been Easter holiday time (I believe this overlapped the US Easter holiday too).  Quite rightly people have been enjoying time away, but now without the ability to get back home and the fact that more people are away than usual, the lack of key personnel will be causing problems.  None of these are insurmountable if:

  • Key staff can be contacted while away – not disturbed, mind you but contacted in an emergency.  Even with tools as simple as a Blackberry or iPhone, decisions can be made and confirmed via phone, SMS or email.
  • Key staff can work remotely.  Some organisations see remote working as a way of employees shirking their daily tasks.  In my opinion, organisations like this are short sighted and failing to embrace technology to the full.  Being a sad techie, I travel with full IT privileges – MacBook, VPN access and enough computing power to down any free Wi-Fi a hotel can offer.
  • Organisational processes are mature and well implemented.  Whether storage related or not, if you implement process badly, then expect the worst.  Don’t put ridiculous steps into processes requiring manual intervention (or worse, printing and scanning electronic documents to get them authorised), for example.

Hopefully things will return to normal and I’ll be back in the UK from Thursday.  Regardless, the Iceland scenario will be a new section on my DR planning scenario list…

About Chris M Evans

Chris M Evans has worked in the technology industry since 1987, starting as a systems programmer on the IBM mainframe platform, while retaining an interest in storage. After working abroad, he co-founded an Internet-based music distribution company during the .com era, returning to consultancy in the new millennium. In 2009 Chris co-founded Langton Blue Ltd (www.langtonblue.com), a boutique consultancy firm focused on delivering business benefit through efficient technology deployments. Chris writes a popular blog at http://blog.architecting.it, attends many conferences and invitation-only events and can be found providing regular industry contributions through Twitter (@chrismevans) and other social media outlets.
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  • http://www.bluearc.com JulieHG

    I am in a similar quandary, only I’m stranded in the UK, trying to get back to San Francisco. Luckily, I’m here on business, and am working in our UK office while I’m here, so I’m both connected, and all of my travel expenses are covered. Others I have met aren’t so lucky.

    While I’m not officially stranded yet (my flight was scheduled to leave Tuesday), I have ZERO expectation that I’ll be flying tomorrow evening. UK airspace is already closed to Tuesday morning flights. Even if the skies open up, there’s only a very slim chance that the plane I need is actually at the airport.

    In order to get home this week, I’ll be taking a ferry to France, making a 13+ hour drive across France to Spain and flying from there. I was lucky to book the last available plane out of Spain to Mexico on Thursday, with a confirmed connection to SFO. So what was a 15 hour flight (with layover) is now a 50 hour travel odyssey.

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