Don’t be like Delta – All flights cancelled due to IT failure

By Glenn Saunders – Delta has experienced and is still experiencing as of this writing (8.9.2016) one of the most massive computer software failures in history, which is going to cost them millions of dollars. Ultimately, this level of disruption might cost them much more, when the potential long term loss of customers is included. My question to the leadership of Delta is: How can a huge organization like Delta not have a disaster recovery data center in a different geographic location for its business critical software systems?

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For those unfamiliar, in the event of a massive power outage at a primary data center where a company might keep its servers, the software which runs on the servers will fail to operate.   The software on those servers typically run business critical operations like customer service, sales management and financial reporting.  Best practices dictate that the software should failover to another datacenter with backup hardware.  In essence, if the power gets cut to the primary data center running the software, then a separate data center in a different geographic location should be in place to spin up and handle the computing burden.  A company with the size and scale of Delta should have been better prepared for such an occasion. They should have had annual if not semi-annual tests to determine the feasibility of the failover and the amount of downtime they might expect in the event of a real disaster. Delta got an answer yesterday. About 24 hours and counting at the time of writing.

The fact that in this day and age organizations continue to play so fast and loose with their systems when it is almost always a fact that things will occur. Maybe I am wrong about the Delta situation and they actually had failover sites that did not engage due to vendor issues. However, I am not inclined to think that is the case. Vendors engaged in that particular line of work typically perform failover tests as part of their ongoing contractual agreements. One simple test could have prevented massive chaos leading to lost revenue and dissatisfied customers.

Companies must look to the cloud to mitigate and remove these types of risks from the organization. With so many options in the public cloud space, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and many others. Not to mention the number of offerings in private cloud deployments (Rackspace, CenturyLink and others). It is inexcusable that some companies, especially those with the size and responsibility of Delta, do not have a plan to deliver uninterrupted service to their customers. Delta reported $5.9 billion in pre-tax income for 2015.

Because of these inherent risks, we advise all of our clients to consider cloud based deployments.  While some believe it is not the right fit for them, I would argue that both public and private clouds provide more security and better failover options.  It is much easier to drop a USB jump drive in a company parking lot and have someone plug it into their computer granting access to the network than at a fully secured data center.

If your organization is looking to remove risk from systematic failures like Delta, our group at Kraft Enterprise Systems can help you put your business and financial management systems in a secure cloud based operating environment ensuring consistent access to both employees and customers. Our team supports Dynamics GP, NetSuite and Adaptive Insights. NetSuite and Adaptive Insights are only available in the cloud and deliver 99.5% guaranteed uptime.