--> Gill Blog: Fire Storms

Gill Blog

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Fire Storms

At 6:00 a.m. yesterday, a major solar outburst from the sun erupted and came hurtling toward earth. Almost immediately authorities began issuing warning bulletins advising of the potential effects these types of events can have on satellite communication systems as well as power grids (the effects of a solar flare caused a massive outage in Quebec in 1989). These early warnings prompted power grid operators to arrange for less switching and fewer large-scale power swaps, and many satellite operators put their satellites into hibernation mode to reduce the effects of the pronounced solar wind.

In effect, a massive business continuity plan was put into place prior to the interplanetary storm's arrival. When the flare actually arrived 17 hours later, it didn't turn out to be the solar superstorm it had initially been predicted to be, as its effects have thus far proven to be rather benign (although officials are carefully monitoring the situation). Still, the anticipation period was notable as it again demonstrated how dependent we are on technology (officials were warning, for example, how a loss of satellite connections could severely affect critical communication functions with the California wildfires). It also showed the extent to which we are all internalizing the familiar 'be prepared' mantra.

While on the topic of the wildfires, firefighters continue to battle the seemingly uncontrollable blaze that has gripped many parts of southern California. Under these circumstances, companies such as Ingram Micro are doing what they can to remain fully operational. The largest operational impediment is the increasing impassability of roads. If business as usual standards cannot be maintained, Ingram is prepared to put its business continuity plan into full operation, as shown in this article. When a distribution and supply chain network play a significant role in organizational operations, the business continuity plan has to comprehend alternative solutions (including alternative facility selection) to meet distribution commitments. Our thoughts are with the firefighters and the victims.


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