Disaster Technology and traditional IT

I was recently asked just how handling technology in a disaster differs from traditional IT.



My normal elevator speech is simply that traditional corporate IT lives a life in maintenance mode.  There are many meetings to define a custom solution for a client, long ramp up periods to bring a configuration to life, the majority of the life-cycle spent keeping it running to the golden mark of 99.999% uptime, and then more meetings for the sunset.  Disaster technology lives life with rapid deployment, setup and speed to scale.  A T-0, we’re told where to be.  We’re on site one day later and setting up.  No meetings.  No change control boards.  No debating what color wire to use.  The site is run for a few weeks, maybe a month.  Then it is all torn down, packed up and sent back to a warehouse.  I add that a disaster technology unit can’t do what a traditional coporate IT unit does either.  The perfect relationship is where they work together: one is the anchor that keeps the back office functioning; the other is the sail to move with the changing wind; and they both share a compass to set a unified direction.

Here’s what my answer to the question looked like this time:

  • Continuous state of readiness to respond to disasters any time, any day, all year long; and establish the technological foundation for a Disaster Services response.
    Traditional corporate IT’s disaster response is defined as business continuity for existing installations; it is not responding with technology to a new location.
  • Adaptable, proven strategies to establish connectivity in chaotic disaster zones.
    Traditional corporate IT operates only in stable infrastructure environments or moves out of disaster zones.
  • Hundreds of trained volunteer staff across the country prepared for the specific mission and environment of disaster response.  Volunteers staff the network support team and maintain the pre-position equipment (including satellite remote units and communication vehicles).
    Traditional corporate IT does not use any volunteers, especially with critical and expensive technology.
  • Rapid deployment of people and equipment to reach any continental US location in one day and be operational in two.
    Traditional corporate IT is not designed to move to new locations quickly.
  • Laptop imaging center that can image 75 laptops simultaneously and prepare more than 600 laptops per work day with a single staff person.
    Traditional corporate IT handles devices one at a time, and not en masse.