It seems to me that nobody cares about their sump pump until it stops working. I use this analogy all the time with customers and given yesterday’s torrential downpour and flood warnings here in North East Ohio, I thought it fitting to jot down a quick post about it. I’ll start with a story from a few years ago. I was traveling and out of town, when I got a phone call from my wife that the basement had completely flooded with 2′ of water. It turned out that the water main had broken away from the foundation of the house and was pouring water into the ground surrounding the foundation at a ridiculous rate. It didn’t take long for the primary sump pump to burn out and then all of a sudden boom; my finished basement was a swimming pool. The damage ended up being right around the $18,000 after repairs and replacements.
Often times the folks I’m dealing with are the sysadmins and network admins, one of the frequent rumblings I hear is the fact that management refuses to spend money on disaster recovery. When I hear this, I simply look at them and ask them a very simple series of questions that usually looks like this:
Do you have a basement? “Yes.” Do you have a sump pump in your basement? “Yes.” Do you have two sump pumps in your basement with a battery backup? “No.” Why? “Because my basement has never flooded.”
And at this point the light bulb actually goes on and the sysadmin/network admin realize that they themselves are managing their own homes, something which they usually have complete autonomy over, in the same fashion as management sometimes sees IT. In the same way that the admins have not invested in a sump pump disaster recovery solution in their own home, this is often parallel to the philosophy that management undertakes with IT systems.. Sadly enough, we saw that with my own behavior in the above story, that I really only gave a thought to actively doing something to mitigate the risk of a disaster only once it actually happened to me. This is the same exact management quandary that senior IT management must battle; risk management. All of a sudden in my case, $330 dollars to purchase a backup sump and battery with trickle charger seems a lot more reasonable.
Sometimes a flooded basement is just what management needs to wake up and smell the coffee. I don’t think anybody wants you to have a flooded basement or wants your IT infrastructure to have a critical fault or suffer a disaster, but our job as good IT consultants is to help prepare folks for when it does and help them realize the risks to their business if they don’t.