We've had a lot of snow the past couple of weeks in New England. It's been record-setting, which is a bit crazy even for a region that's widely known for having harsh winters. All this snow got me thinking about work closings and the power of the cloud to let you access your work, even when you can't drive in for whatever reason.
Let's say you run a business. You have a nice office space in a modern building, but you keep all of your content in a local datacenter. Suddenly Mother Nature drops 2 feet of snow, the governor declares a state of emergency for two days, and your people can't come to work.
VPN might get you through if you're set up, but let's face it, VPN has never been popular because it's prickly and difficult. Chances are your employees and your business are dead in the water (or stuck in the middle of an ice jam, pick your metaphor).
Sure, having an unexpected day off brings back memories of childhood snow days, but for adults the work piles up like the snow in your absence.
That's where the cloud comes in. The beauty of the cloud has always been that you can get your content anytime, anywhere, on any device, regardless of the weather conditions. Assuming you have electricity and an Internet connection, you can do your work, even if you can't specifically travel to work. And that's true whether you want to telecommute or because the state has prohibited unnecessary traffic due to a storm, as happened in Massachusetts recently during what was billed as a blizzard event.
Traveling to and from work safely is one matter, but suppose you have a weather catastrophe like Hurricane Sandy in 2012, an epic storm that took out entire businesses in New York and New Jersey. It's not inconceivable that storms of this magnitude could happen again at some point in the coming years.
When your whole building is gone or at least under water, you're not going to be working there for some time. That means you have to find a way to move your operations somewhere else, and that would involve a serious disaster recovery plan including cloud storage, which would allow you to get at your crucial content and continue operating from a temporary location.
I participated in a Twitter chat last week in which one participant suggested you actually conduct a disaster drill with your company and see if you could get up and running if you were in that unthinkable situation.
Chances are if you keep your important data in the cloud, you could, but I would recommend trying and seeing how much of your operations can keep going.
Snow storms are pretty and they make the world quiet and soft, but they also can wreak havoc on business. Tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes can cause even more damage. If your eggs are all in one data center, even with backup tapes offsite, chances are you're talking days to get going again.
With the cloud, you could potentially fire up a computer, and your content is ready to rock. And cloud vendors tend to spread the risk, so if they encounter one of those disasters, they can keep going too.
There could be a silver lining in the cloud. It's something to think about while you're shoveling your walk.