Big-ass storm preparations

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As of the latest guidance, Hurricane Sandy is not likely to directly cross the DC area.

That said, hurricanes are pretty large storms so it's likely we'll catch a piece of it. How much of it is unknown at this time, but I will be keeping a real close eye on it.

That said, there are some preparations to be made.

The biggest storm we've handled recently was that Derecho storm back in late June that left me without power for three long, long days. That storm came with hurricane force winds and according to the power companies was the biggest ever power-wrecking weather system to come through that wasn't a hurricane, and even beat out some hurricanes. So we've been though this.

From experience, our primary systems are hosted in a first tier datacenter in Ashburn VA, there is little threat to our line-of-business online presence short of a direct hit. Freak accidents happen of course, but there isn't much you can do to plan for stuff thats outside of your domain of control.

But there is one thing that we do need to be prepared for:

Our on-call personnel being without power.

That's right, a people-problem. We have non-customer-visible systems that need tending, and if their designated sheepdog can't get to the machine flock there can be problems. What this means is that the people managing the on-call schedules need to pick alternates in case the primary is out of power, preferably a good list of alternates, and have a way of notifying them that they're up.

We have the benefit of a distributed workforce, so we have people who can be on call that are outside of the threat zone. This is something we have, but perhaps you may not. This is one more thing to put on that disaster-preparation checklist.

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Great advice and something that is easy to overlook in a situation like this. I went in this morning and grabbed the weekend's backup tapes and made sure our UPS (and remote shutdown software) was working properly but didn't think to communicate to the team that we should be sure to let each other know if we lose connectivity through the storm. Thanks for this!