VOL. 131 | NO. 170 | Thursday, August 25, 2016
Lessons Learned from Delta’s Power Outage
By PATRICK TAMBURRINO
Recently, tens of thousands of Delta Air Lines passengers worldwide were stranded as a result of a power outage within the company’s computer system. When the Delta Technology Command Center in Atlanta lost power, the critical systems and network equipment failed to switch over to a backup system.
The massive outage forced Delta to cancel nearly 2,000 flights and offer all stranded fliers a $200 voucher for compensation. Not only did Delta lose millions of dollars in revenue, but they also took a hit to their hard-won reputation as one of the most reliable U.S.-based international airlines.
When malfunctions like this occur, many questions arise as to how they can be preventable. Whether your business is large or small, consider these precautions in order to prevent and/or be prepared for a similar IT nightmare:
Have a backup power source and generator. Most big computer systems are protected from power failure by an uninterrupted power supply (UPS), which allows temporary use until a generator can take over for a longer term. Having both UPS infrastructure and an emergency backup generator in place helps businesses maintain customer contact and combat revenue losses during an electrical disruption.
Test your recovery processes. Delta’s biggest failure was that the backup system did not work. Invest in weekly self-testing mechanisms to ensure all systems are working smoothly and catching any bugs before they’re a greater problem.
Consider managed IT services. 24/7 monitoring of your servers and other core infrastructure is the key to preventative maintenance. If a server goes down for some reason, managed IT services will be notified in real time and can proactively work on resolving the issue. Many managed IT services incorporate online backup, business continuity, antivirus and security management as well.
Set aside a minimum of 20 percent of your company’s annual budget for IT services. After you’ve defined your company’s IT strategy, consider the cost structure, which includes but is not limited to equipment, personnel and training to keep up with industry standards. There will be unforeseen hiccups that arise – both with hardware and software – and proper budget cushioning will help you stay in the black while fixing said problems throughout the year.
Have a crisis communications plan. If a power failure situation were to happen, be prepared with a plan to quickly communicate with your workforce, customers and partners to prevent harsher fallout. Know who’s going to send out the email to update employees and customers of next steps. Also designate a responsible party to alert your social media followers, if you have a business page.
In today’s world, there is an expectation that a business will be up and running shortly after a technical malfunction. However, that can only be done with proper IT planning and execution on a daily basis to find and solve any issues before they can have a large (and sometimes costly) impact.
Patrick Tamburrino, the president of IT strategy, support and management firm tamburrino inc., can be reached at email@example.com.