Saturday, April 17, 2010

Alternative Planning

The events of the past days in Iceland shows us how fragile our infrastructure really is and how powerful "Mother Nature" can be. We grow to depend on our technology but few ever think about a disaster from the point of view that the technology no longer works. Sure we have disaster plans for:
- IT systems failing: we get new hardware and restore the backup
- fire or natural disaster: move to a new building/location, get new equipment.
But what happens when the technology can no longer be used:
- a nuclear blast generates EMP and fries the electronics in our computers, cars, radios, hospital equipment, electrical grid
- the atmosphere is filled with particles and planes can no longer fly through it
- a LARGE asteroid impacts the Earth changes the dynamics of rotation.

Yes, at least some of these are improbably scenarios but at the beginning of last week the 10 Europeans sitting in meetings with me in Chicago weren't the least bit worried about going home on Thursday and coming back in 2 weeks for a SAP GoLive. As of Saturday only one that I know of got a flight to Rome, many hours by train from his original destination. The rest were wondering if they would be at their meetings on Monday or still here in the USA. Some of us are starting to think about an alternative GoLive support plan.

I am sure that companies that depend on air freight for keeping their production lines running are now scrambling to find alternative shipping methods to get material to open airports. This impacts costs in a very real way and may even push some companies into situations from which they can not recover.

How long will it last. We all hope that flights resume on Sunday/Monday but this is not something we can control, not something that Congress can pass laws to fix or have hearings to "Punish the guilty" (though I am sure that they will). Nature has reminded us that we need to be flexible and to never depend on anything so much that we can't do without it.

Robert Paterson has a good article on this topic at:

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