Recent earthquakes highlight benefits of disaster recovery preparedness


Although the two earthquakes that struck the provinces Ontario and Quebec on May 17 caused no reported structural damage and little disruption to businesses located in Toronto and Quebec, the event still serves to highlight the importance of using disaster recovery services.


At 9:43 a.m. local time, a 5.2 magnitude earthquake struck Braeside, Ontario, with a 4.1 magnitude aftershock primarily affecting nearby Shawville, Quebec, about 10 minutes later. The National Post reported that the Ontario Provincial Police have yet to field any calls about structural damage, even though the earthquake shook buildings in Ottawa and forced some building evacuations in Toronto and as far away as Waterloo.


Earthquakes of this magnitude rarely cause much damage, but the event does prove that even geographical areas not historically prone to earthquake damage can be affected by these kinds of natural disasters. In addition, considering the distributed nature of today’s networks, companies that do not have office space in the affected area would still likely have its normal operations slightly altered as a result of issues localized in cities like Toronto or Ottawa.


“You have disasters that you can see coming, and you’ve got disasters that you can’t see coming, and an earthquake is an example of (the latter),” said Barry Cardoza, a business continuity contingency planning and disaster recovery expert based out of San Francisco, according to CNET News. “And you don’t know how bad it’s going to be until it hits.”


Earthquake disaster recovery lessons from Japan

Perhaps the most notable example of the damaging effects of an earthquake is the 2011 tremor and tsunami that struck the Japanese coast and took some major corporations offline for months.That natural disaster serves to highlight two major distinctions about earthquakes: Namely that even the best prepared companies may not be able to avoid all of the fallout from an earthquake and that these events are no longer only localized concerns.


Japan is in one of the most seismically active parts of the world along the Pacific rim, meaning that firms with operations in the country are theoretically more well versed than others about how to most effectively deal with such a natural disaster. Still, when a major calamity occurs even organizations with the best disaster recovery plans will need to account for unforeseen concerns.


In addition, the 2011 Japanese tsunami disaster illustrates the true global nature of today’s businesses. In its aftermath, firms headquartered far away from the earthquake’s epicenter had to deal with its ramifications since the country is a hub for many supply chain partners. The event created a business continuity planning ripple effect, as issues affecting Japanese corporations spread to others around the globe.


“For this reason, large corporations that had been developing their supply chains on a nationwide scale have come to realize the magnitude of the spillover effect that any disaster would have on a highly networked society,” Kazuchika Asano of the Nomura Research Institute said in a 2012 report about the event. “The disaster has taught a new lesson that could never be learned from previous major earthquakes.”


Although companies cannot totally insulate themselves from all of the problems that can surface in the aftermath of an earthquake or another natural disaster, leveraging a disaster recovery services provider like FlexITy can go a long way toward ensuring that critical IT infrastructure remains online and functional no matter what.