How do you prepare for snow emergencies?

8323 pts.
Tags:
Disaster Preparedness/Recovery
Network management
VPN
For those being affected by "winter mixes", how do you prepare or plan for all the stresses of snowstorms, blizzards and more? So far today, we've seen power outages, VPN overloads, network traffic spikes and more, but we'd love to hear what you're dealing with, as well as advice on preparing or dealing with these disasters. 
P.S. Best answers get 50 bonus points towards the iPad contest!

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We are somewhat limited in reactive process. Our fabric is our fabric so we are limited in what resources we can add. We do have virtualization resources that can be used to deploy servers and resources as needed, and we can leverage some unused resources to accomadate traffic spikes at the edge. I think planning ahead and providing resources for worst case scenarios allow you to “right size” capacity for emergency situations.

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  • Michael Morisy
    Thanks for sharing, Spadasoe! I think a lot of people are in the same "reactive" stance when it comes to disaster preparedness. And rightsizing for worst case scenarios sounds great ... until you see the price tag. Added 50 points for you!
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  • Michael Morisy
    [...] other dangers - or preventative measures - you’d recommend to your peers? Sound off in the forum! The best answers will even get 50 bonus points towards our current iPad [...]
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  • Denny Cherry
    Proper planning can make most any disaster a pretty much non-issue. Having enough bandwidth at the sites to handle VPN. Having user data replicated between sites so that when they VPN into another site because the network link at their office is down the users can still access their data, etc. The setup and recurring costs for a little extra bandwidth is minimal compared to the loss of work from one bad 2+ day snow/ice storm.
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  • KFaganJr
    I'm glad I came across this question because it reminded me to document and review the steps we took. Most of the tasks were a verification that existing systems were fully functional before the storm hit. These included ensuring all off-site backups we run successfully, a live copy of any important documentation was hosted off-site and up to date, temperature sensors and reporting tools were functional and also tweaked to allow more time for action due to the extra travel time needed. Being a small department we were able to just discuss things such as who can be where and do what if a major problem hits, but in a larger organization I would have documented it. It's important to walk through the process of redirecting traffic if a location goes down. We have four main sites that usually funnel all traffic through the main office, if one goes down then that traffic has to be sent elsewhere to keep everything functional. Things to note... how much time do you have to complete the job if need be, is the alternate connection you rely on functioning properly, is touch services needed to make the switch? Also, for anyone working with end users, any employees with passwords about to expire were sent additional emails to prevent additional work, reminders of phone system features were sent out that would help users work from home seamlessly. emails to remind users that if they have VPN issues speak to IT before the storm hits if possible. Additional laptops were available to lend out for critical personnel. The most important task in my mind is making sure everything is running smoothly before the storm though, you don't want to worry about preparing for disaster and neglect the critical server that has been crashing, have an issue with that server when touch services aren't available and making all other planning to avoid disaster in vein because of an unrelated issue
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  • HMSSL2K
    DR planning and testing at a remote site. We are in Texas with our DR site in SD, it does pay to have a remote site.
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  • Michael Morisy
    Thanks KFaganJr, MrDenny and HMSSL2K! Great advice.
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  • Michael Morisy
    [...] received a great response to our call to the community for advice on ensuring that a blizzard doesn’t become a perfect storm for your IT department. [...]
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  • Michael Morisy
    [...] made quite an impression, not only on the questions around IT answers but on our editors with his in-depth guide on preparing for snow emergencies. He’s from our neck of the woods, working as a System Administrator. His diverse background [...]
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  • KFaganJr
    With another snow day comes more items to add to the list of items to cover ahead of time... If you have users that will be connecting via VPN to Remote Desktop, remind them not to turn off their computers before they leave for the day when a snow storm is expected. If the office is closed there will be no one to turn them on when it's needed.
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