When Superstorm Sandy hit New York City on Monday, October 29, it turned Lower Manhattan into a disaster area for the second time in just over a decade. Millions of gallons of sea water surged over the embankments and flooded streets, basements, and subway tunnels. Government officials evacuated much of the area below 31st St. Con Edison cut power to protect the grid and keep transformers in the flooded area from exploding.
Many companies suddenly had to field test their disaster recovery plan.
GramercyOne was one of the Lower Manhattan businesses whose plan worked. Their physical offices (looking out onto the World Trade Center) were closed for 4 days as a result of the storm, but business was not interrupted. Cloud services were a major part of their business continuity planning–and everything else about the company.
Josh McCarter, GramercyOne’s CEO, says, “As a provider of cloud based software, we embraced these systems for our internal infrastructure and despite our office and surrounding area being completely offline and inaccessible, all of our mission critical systems, including our SaaS application used by thousands of businesses, was fully operational.”
Their intacct IT infrastructure also kept the lines of communication with customers open (via Gmail, Google Voice, and chat – all public cloud services). “More importantly, with our sales team working remotely from apartments, coffee shops, gyms, hotel lobbies and (I’ll admit) bars, we ended up closing with a stellar month,” McCarter says.
Brittenford Systems offers both disaster recovery planning services and Intacct cloud financials. Obviously we think they belong together, and GramercyOne’s experience strongly supports that belief. Their salesmen not only closed sales with customers on Halloween, they booked them – two days after the storm hit and two days before they could get back into their offices. Revenue recognition and daily accounting and month-end financial processes remained available throughout the crisis.
Seeing Lower Manhattan trashed again makes a person realize that disaster can occur anywhere, in ways never imagined and on never-anticipated scales. As Brian Proffit, an author and business school professor, says in Hurricane Sandy: What Will It Take To Get You To Move To The Damn Cloud? “The plain truth is that no company is truly safe from the possibility of disaster – so you have to be prepared to get the hell out of the way when trouble comes, and to have a way to get back on your feet if you do get knocked down.”
We agree with Proffit that “The key to doing that quickly and efficiently is to remember that your website is on a network – it does not have to be tied down to one vulnerable server in one vulnerable building.” When your business is on the Internet, the means of protection should be too.
In fact, we will make this fearless prediction: In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, a disaster recovery plan that doesn’t include a consideration of cloud applications and backup will probably be facing questions from their Board of Directors.