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Washington University Medical School

Natural disasters can spell big trouble for IT managers and CIOs, and the upsurge in hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, mudslides, and other Acts of God has put many organizations worldwide to the most difficult of survival tests.

But plenty of users have met the challenge. We contacted a few to see how their lessons could benefit others who may someday encounter similar difficulties. What follows are some key pieces of wisdom from the disaster recovery trenches, as told to us by storage pros who've survived in their shops to tell the tale.

Make sure to monitor

Monitoring electrical power could have helped Kelly Carpenter, technical services manager at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis, to locate the source of a lightning-generated power outage more quickly than he did.

A couple of years ago, lightning had struck near Carpenter's site, burning out a cable linking both the medical school and its data center to the power grid. "Hours later, the lights started dropping off in certain places," notes the exec, adding that he realized what happened when he saw a 5-foot-wide soot mark on one of the building's walls.

Though the School's two UPS systems kicked into gear as soon as the grid link was knocked out, Carpenter was nonetheless forced to power down some of the equipment in his data center, which is packed with EMC Clariion devices, HDS hardware, and blade servers.

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