What Hurricane Sandy Taught Us about Business Survival

It hasn’t even been a month since Sandy swept over the Northeastern part of the United States, and many people are still trying to get back on their feet. Some people no longer have homes to return to, and many others have lost much of their valued possessions. Meanwhile, businesses affected by the hurricane are trying to stabilize as soon as possible – not only because their operations mean income for them, but because it helps the local economy as well. The sooner these businesses get back up, the better the chances of a community surviving a calamity.

Of course, getting the affected businesses running at a hundred percent so soon after this disaster isn’t as easy as it sounds. But some businessmen found ways to make sure that they got through the hurricane with minimal damage to their operations – thus making recovery much faster than it could have been.

Here are their stories.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro

This New York architectural firm was in the process of moving their email communications from Exchange to Gmail when the hurricane happened. Remarkably, the company was able to continue the migration process because Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s IT Manager Chris Donnel had already moved his work to Google apps, allowing him to work from his home (which was less affected by the storm). At the same time, people were able to work using the partially-migrated email accounts so the fact that the basement flooding of their office building – which caused a power outage – wasn’t such a big issue.


This company, which offers continuing legal education (CLE) to lawyers through their website, was supposed to do 15 live Webcasts for several Virginia lawyers set to renew their license when they heard news of the hurricane. This was potentially bad news for them, since the lawyers only had until October 31 to renew and they need 4 hours of online CLE (out of the 12 hours total CLE) to get their license. So founder David Schnurman sent their entire operation to the cloud and “moved” their servers to California. They managed to continue serving their customers through Skype, averting this disaster.


This cloud-based business phone service provider may be based in San Mateo, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have ongoing operations in the East Coast. When they found out that a big natural disaster is going to hit that area, they immediately moved all their services to the West Coast. RingCentral vice president of operations Curtis Peterson emphasized the importance of having a disaster communications plan in place during such occasions. Thanks to this company’s quick action, many of their clients from the affected areas still had their business phone service up and running during the calamity.

What we’re learning from all this

What’s become increasingly clear from these stories is that the cloud is far more important for businesses now than we realize. Many of the companies that are getting back on track faster than they would have a few years ago are the ones that make use of cloud technology. Through it, they were able to operate during the disaster or, at the very least, ensure the safety of their assets until the end of the storm. Without it, they would have had to deal with either lost customers, expensive data reconstruction, or both.

Of course, the cloud is not the ONLY solution, but it’s one of the best technological innovations that help businesses evolve into entities that can survive and thrive through catastrophes. If you don’t want your company to be extinct, going on the cloud is your only option.

Henry Conrad is a 29-year-old game developer from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Aside from gaming and being a tech junky, he also dabbles in creative writing, which allows him to create great storylines and backgrounds for his characters. Follow me on Twitter and join me in Google +

Filed in: Cloud, Disaster Planning, Technology
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