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How Cloud IT Saved our Business from the Superstorm

Posted by on Thursday, November 8, 2012


In the aftermath of Hurricane/Superstorm/Frankenstorm Sandy, many businesses found out just how dependent they still are on in-house servers and locally installed software when they suffered (or are still suffering) extended power outages and office damage.

While our office building was relatively unscathed, we did find ourselves without power for an entire work week, and a long list of clients needing our help to cope with the storm’s impact on their business technology.  Without the ability to even enter our office, our team was forced to improvise and work from alternate locations for a week- during which time we learned a lot about how flexible a business can be when adopting a cloud-centric IT strategy.

Here are the three biggest cloud IT lifesavers that kept our business running during Sandy’s week of darkness:

Lifesaver #1: Google Apps and Hangouts

Google arguably has the most sophisticated and outage-resistant network of data centers on the planet.  Losing access to Google Apps was never a concern, and fortunately the experience is exactly the same, regardless of whether you’re logging on in Manhattan, Queens, or Australia.  Aside from using Google Apps for our e-mail, contacts and calendar, we recently made the commitment to migrate 100% to Google Drive and ditch our file server, so we felt very little impact when working remotely.
Also, a huge shoutout to Google Hangouts– a highly underutilized group videoconferencing tool.  Our team is used to collaborating face-to-face, so not having that interaction was one of the larger challenges we faced.  We started each day by creating a Google Hangout- with different members of the team popping in and out of the video chat throughout the day.

Lifesaver #2: Web-Based CRM and Help Desk Software

Our CRM (Batchbook) and Help Desk software (Zendesk) run in the cloud and can be accessed anywhere via web browser.  These are two of the most critical applications to our business, and having them easily accessible was a fundamental requirement to keeping up with our work during the outage.

Lifesaver #3: Cloud-Based VoIP Telephone Service

In truth, our phone service was partially impacted by the week-long outage, as we still rely upon an on-premise server to provide the full functionality of our phone system (consequently, this will be changing in the coming weeks).  We weren’t totally up a creek, however.  Our main phone line can be accessed from any location with an Internet connection, and we were able to field incoming calls from a simple smartphone app which connected into our VoIP provider.  (Note- this is not an option with all VoIP service- check with your provider to make sure they are cloud-friendly.)

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