Case Study: Floods of 2008

On June 10, 2008, floods forced personnel to  evacuate  parts of the Great Ape Trust of Iowa’s campus. As their IT Director, Jon Thompson was integral in the disaster response and recovery of the IT and other parts of the operation.

The primary server system, an XSan cluster, was not removed at that time, as water was not supposed to enter the building that housed the server room. Unfortunately, this was not the case.

Jon evacuating a Fibre Channel switch

Fortunately, Jon had already made arrangements with Mediacom to temporarily relocate the Trust’s server equipment to their data center in West Des Moines. On June 11, XSan cluster was removed from the campus by boat.

During the flood, Jon was still able to keep all remote services running, providing vital communication services to those protecting the apes, which were still living in now-flooded buildings. He also assisted in repairing a secondary boat, which was essential in the dangerous waters of the flood.

After the water receded, Jon managed the contractors who cleaned debris out of the extensive data conduit, replaced ethernet wiring, and repaired fibre. In addition, Jon designed and managed the remodeling of the server room, effectively doubling the space available to work.

Almost two months after the evacuation of the campus, the XSan cluster returned to the Great Ape Trust campus, where it resides today. Out of the server room, only one server and one UPS was lost in this process.

Jon prepares XSan cluster for return

Looking at 2010, floods once again threaten businesses such as the Great Ape Trust. A disaster response plan is essential for all businesses, but especially those residing in a flood plain, such as downtown Des Moines.

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Case Study: Removing regionalization from your business

I was talking to a single person business today, and the subject of de-regionalization came up. This individual has clients all over the nation, primarily corresponding by telephone and mail with those outside of the Des Moines metro. He has a three year old Windows PC, which is used as the sole computer for his business.

I quickly defined two ways that a Mac would improve his ability to communicate remotely using iChat, which is built in to Mac OS X.

First, I started up a video session with my wife, showing the fact that you can embed virtually any file within the video stream, making it very easy to share concepts; whether they are easily spoken about, drawn, presented, or written.

Second, I showed the built-in ability to share screens via iChat. The nice thing about this is that it automatically creates a voice chat session at the same time, so the two individuals can talk about what is happening on screen. This is useful for both my clients as well as those that are teaching computer-based concepts to remote clients.

Finally, I demonstrated what is quickly becoming the greatest benefit of utilizing Macs in business- Automation. I will talk about my general automation demonstration later.

I realize there are third-party solutions available to do all of this in Windows. However, the tools that I demonstrated were built in Mac OS X, and do not incur additional costs for software.

The individual in this case study is now considering how he might afford to replace his HP a couple years early, given the benefits of using a Mac, and the additional revenue opportunities it provides in de-regionalizing his business.