We all watched in horror as Hurricane Sandy turned into a megastorm and hit the US mainland. We’ve already hit the phones and tried to contact the 250 customers who were in the path of the storm, and for some of us it’s come even closer – one of our sales team had the neighbor’s roof come through his window as the winds tore up the coast.

What we’ve realized too is that although our main offices in Chicago were not affected, our entire industry has felt the impact of the storm, and will continue to do so. But because we’ve been through this before, and been through disasters on a global scale at the very least we’ve been able to go back to our customers and help them get up and running as soon as they can get access to the internet and power.

In many cases people will not be able to get back into their offices for a week or more, but so long as they’re systems are hosted in our global cloud their business was never down, just the office closed. Even customers located out of the direct path of the storm are being eaffected as partners and suppliers are knocked off line, perhaps temporarily, perhaps permanently, in many cases we still don’t know.

But this isn’t the first time we’ve dealt with disasters. WiseTech Global is just that, global, and last year alone we helped out customers impacted by floods in Bangkok and Brisbane, earthquakes in New Zealand, Japan and Turkey. What all this has taught us is that disaster planning isn’t about “what if” scenarios – it’s about “when”, and disaster recovery systems aren’t about how safe your data is in one office, but how to ensure that it is backed up across many locations.

Our data centres are located in Sydney Australia, Chicago in the US, and Milton Keynes in the UK. Each of them has redundant power supplies and data connections, and each is a mirror image of the other. Certainly it is possible that a global disaster could take down all three locations at once – but in that case I suspect we’d have more to worry about than cleaning up after a terrible storm.

What is delightful however, is to listen to our sales team touch base with customers throughout the affected regions, and help them get back on their feet, get access to their data and reassure them that their data, and therefore their business, is safe and sound.

Disaster recovery isn’t about planning for an event you think will not happen, it’s about planning for an event you hope will not happen, with the knowledge that it probably will.

 Gene Gander is Vice President – Business Development, Americas, CargoWise®