El Nino is expected to bring strong rains into Southern California after years of drought and it is likely that the entire Southern U.S. is in for a wild winter.
The major business impact will be through travel disruption, power interruptions, and telecommunications outages. The last major storms to hit Southern and Central Califonia in December 2010 and January 2011 wreaked havoc on businesses, with many in Southern California off-line for days. There is an open regulatory proceeding at the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) about those failures and the insufficient response from Verizon and ATT, but the harsh reality is that nothing has improved. With Verizon essentially washing their hands of the problem and handing their landline business in the West and Midwest to Frontier in the coming months, we can be certain the impacts on telecommunications infrastructure will be worse this time around if the rains do indeed materialize.
What should you do? Test your redundancy and business continuity plan now! Have your technical teams:
1) Check to make sure critical infrastructure is plugged into an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) and generator power if you have it, and not unintentionally plugged into utility power. Verify the batteries in the UPS have been refreshed within a reasonable interval and then after scheduling it according to your change management process, pull that plug and watch to make sure it holds the load for the amount of time you need it to shut down systems gently and/or carry you through a short power outage.
2) Physically test the failure of your primary voice, data and Internet paths by unplugging each of the cables and testing your systems for operation with only one of two paths active at the same time. If you don’t have redundancy in your communications links, get it. We can help, that’s what we do.
3) Dust off your phone rerouting plan or work with our team to design how and where you want calls to flow in the event a location is offline. If you have our cloud-based phone system, it is redundantly hosted geographically and designed to stay up if one site fails, so your phone system will still be up even if your location is down. Figure out the best way to take advantage of that redundancy in your business and have a plan in place to reroute calls to alternate locations, or mobile phones.
Please coordinate your testing with us so we don’t scramble the jets when our monitoring sees your connections go down, or talk to our friendly Client Services team to help you develop a redundancy and business continuity plan. Advance preparation is the key to minimizing business impact from weather related events. We sleep better when our customers are prepared, let us help you sleep better too.