Inside TDV - The Data Vault Blog

Airlines Face Day of Reckoning On Disaster Recovery


Summer is one of the busiest travel seasons of the year, with families taking time to visit vacation hotspots. But for this to successfully occur, infrastructure must be adequately prepared to handle the annual influx of passengers; something that isn’t always guaranteed.

Airline travelers have learned this the hard way in recent weeks, as both Southwest and Delta experienced significant service disruptions. Southwest Airlines’s troubles began when they suffered a system wide outage July 20th after a router at its Dallas data center failed, knocking systems offline and grounding flights for an hour. Delays and cancellations lingered for several days, leading to the cancellation of 2,300 flights and costing the airline at least $54 million. Delta Airlines, long known for it’s reputation of scheduled efficiency and lack of delays, followed suit within weeks: crippled by a small power outage and backup systems that didn’t function as designed. While it’s too early to evaluate the financial impact, most analysts are saying that the incident will cost the company millions of dollar in lost revenue and reimbursements to unhappy customers.

Both of these disruptions serve to highlight an often overlooked (but critically important) part of business planning: disaster recovery. Most airlines are dealing with a combination of legacy systems – some with software dating back to the 1950s – and modern networks for internet based functions. These technological necessities have been grafted onto each other over time, leaving a patchwork IT environment that works day to day but is vulnerable to small incidents that can cascade into total failures. Because they’re required to run 24/7/365, the difficulty arises because there is no downtime where the entire infrastructure can be upgraded; meaning improvements rarely get pushed through to the entire network.

Unfortunately, many other organizations find themselves in this same situation when it comes to technology; leaving them vulnerable to similar results. After seeing the effect of these outages on the airlines and their customers, businesses should closely examine their infrastructure and operations to make sure they can sustain a hit from the most likely causes of failure. The first checklist item: have a backup plan in place and test it on a regular basis. A hybrid environment that makes use of cloud computing can help avoid disruptions, mitigating the risk of failure by quickly restoring data to systems and allowing for continued operations.  For this to truly work as intended, however, monitoring and testing has to occur on a consistent basis so that backup systems work when they’re needed (unlike in Delta’s scenario).

Every business has a unique IT environment that is designed to complement their needs, and our expert team at The Data Vault understands that. Our cloud based disaster recovery services are customized to fit your combination of hardware and software – physical servers, virtualized workstations, mobile applications – in a way that ensures their continued integrity in the face of unforeseen incidents. Industry leading monitoring services set us apart from other backup providers, backed by our 30+ years of experience handling data for companies both large and small. Contact us today and one of our specialists will be happy to review your environment, pinpoint weak spots, and develop a solution that works!


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