Pax8 hosted a live Q&A event where we talked with some of our partners who have witnessed natural disasters and the resulting disruptions to business first-hand. We heard from Nexinite Managing Partner Jeffrey Wright, Techvera founder and CEO Reese Ormand, and Premier Data Systems owner Bret Meche about their experiences dealing with natural disasters. We also heard from Pax8 Continuity Solutions Consultant Liz Moser about her experiences helping partners prepare for these scenarios.
As an MSP based in Northern California, Nexinite has faced challenges with the numerous wildfires that have devastated the region in recent years. Many of their clients have been adversely affected by the fires and resulting evacuations.
Techvera was on the frontlines of the snow storm that struck Texas in February of 2021, dealing with the large power outages, travel hazards, and other obstacles that made helping their clients extremely difficult.
Premier Data Systems operates in Louisiana, where hurricanes present a consistent threat to residents. In 2020, the state suffered through one of the worst hurricane seasons on record, with 30 named storms making landfall.
Through all these disasters, these three companies have learned important lessons about what it takes to properly prepare for and manage during a natural disaster. For those who couldn’t attend the event, you can watch the full video here — and we’ve compiled the main highlights below.
How to Prepare Yourself and Your Clients
Developing a solid disaster plan involves asking what would happen in every worst-case scenario. What would happen if the phone lines went down? What would happen if emails couldn’t get through? What would happen if certain facilities were completely inaccessible? There needs to be an answer and a procedure in place for every possibility, especially ones that you know your client is bound to overlook.
The solutions and strategies that are in place should be routinely maintained and updated as needed. Backup batteries and generators need to be checked or replaced, emergency contact lists need to be up to date, and all data needs to be backed up. Every solution should be tested regularly to make sure it’s ready to handle a real-world scenario.
Wright also pointed out that, much like oxygen masks on an airplane, it’s important to focus on your own preparedness before you can assist clients with theirs. Making sure you have the best possible plan in place for yourself ensures that you’ll have better capabilities and more resources available for your clients when the time comes.
Communication is Key
In the middle of a natural disaster, lines of communication will likely be limited as Internet and phone service may be unavailable. Even traveling to meet with clients in person may not be an option if roads are closed or damaged.
As the presenters stressed, it’s important that you leverage whatever means of communication you can find to reach your clients. Whether this is a dedicated Teams channel that you set up or an emergency phone number to call, clients need to be able to get to you somehow.
Reliable communication helps clients get their problems solved faster. It can also help you make sure they are safe and that they have things they need, not just to operate business, but to survive the dangers of the situation.
The Importance of Cloud and Digital Transformation
The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shift to remote work have already emphasized the need for digital transformation. As employees move out of the office, traditional on-premises servers and infrastructure are making way for intelligent cloud solutions that offer more flexibility and accessibility. The impact of natural disasters only strengthens the case for transitioning to the cloud.
During the snow storm in Texas, Ormand and Techvera faced challenges with clients that were still using on-prem Exchange servers, including one company that couldn’t access its payroll data due to the power outages. Even when the storms subsided, these servers were at risk of water damage due to ice thawing and burst pipes. Many of these problems could have been avoided if the data was hosted in the cloud, rather than being stored on-site.
Wright credits previously moving all his clients to the cloud as a major source of relief for both Nexinite and its clients during the wildfires. With the knowledge that all critical data was safe from the fires, Nexinite could dedicate more of its time and attention to other areas of assistance.
As an MSP, you are the trusted advisor to your clients for all of their tech needs. That means it’s your job to provide them with the best possible solutions to help them weather whatever a natural disaster may throw at them.
But sometimes clients can be hesitant (or even resistant) to adopting essential disaster recovery solutions. Meche advises that you must be willing to push back against this type of thinking and emphasize that disaster recovery is not optional. Don’t let clients believe that they’ll be okay without a proper plan in place, insist that they be prepared for the worst.
Wright adds that clients shouldn’t think of natural disasters as a matter of “if” but rather, a matter of “when” and “when next after that.” After all, no one thinks a disaster is going to happen to them, until it does.
Resources to Help You Prepare for Natural Disasters and Beyond
Utilizing Pax8 and our team of continuity solution experts, you can find the backup and disaster recovery solutions that fit the needs of both you and your clients. You can also learn how these solutions best work together to create a layered stack that ensures maximum continuity and security. When it comes time to position your stack to your clients, Pax8 can help with that too.