Pandemic Planning and the Data Center

As many organizations activate pandemic preparation plans, it's a good time to highlight pandemic resources for IT and data center managers.

Data center professionals deal with risk assessment and management every day. Nonetheless, pandemics present different challenges than other disaster scenarios, particularly in their potential to affect operations and staffing across a wide range of locations. With the World Health Organization now calling on countries and organizations to activate pandemic preparation plans, it seems prudent to highlight pandemic resources for IT and data center managers:

  • At ComputerWorld, Scott McPherson highlights several pandemic presentations he created for the Florida  CIO Council's pandemic web site, including a pandemic planning checklist for IT departments and data centers. Key issues include how to adapt data center operations in the event staffers are unable to work due to illness or quarantine, including a prioritization plan for applications and services to determine which are essential if you run out of staff or resources.
  • The National Association of State CIOs has a pandemic planning document for state IT departments, titled "Where's My Staff?" (PDF) which covers many similar issues. It notes the importance of remote access and suggests priority IP access for critical employees.
  • A 2007 article from Processor highlights additional issues, including the potential to relocate staff out of areas of active pandemic risk, and the need to examine supplier and vendor relationships for potential impact.
  • Pandemic planning was discussed at the 2006 Gartner Data Center Conference, which highlighted the potential impact on companies who have outsourced IT operations to countries that may be affected by a pandemic. 
  • For a big-picture overview of potential impacts, see the U.S. Department of Homeland Security publication on Pandemic Influenza  Preparedness, Response and Recovery for Critical Infrastructure (PDF, 84 pages). 

What other issues are helpful to keep in mind for IT and data center staff? If you have expertise, advice or useful links, please share them in the comments.

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