The Rapture, Zombie Apocalypse, and Risk Planning

Gibbs ponders how IT can provide great service come what may.

Surely you know the scary stuff in the IT world isn't just limited to politicians wielding their legislative axes to chop off your constitutional rights (although, as I wrote a couple of weeks ago, you should be very, very concerned about this). Nope, there are lots more equally disastrous things you should be planning for and taking precautions against to ensure you can provide optimal service under all eventualities.

For instance, there's the whole problem of The Rapture. If only Harold Camping could get it right. He screwed up on The Rapture happening this last May 21 (when interviewed on the following day he described himself as "flabbergasted" that it hadn't happened), and he has since "re-interpreted" the scriptures and concluded that the Big One goes down this coming Oct. 21. Of course! How could he have missed it! It was so obvious!

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Anyway, what can you, responsible IT folks that you are, do to prepare for the big day? Well, first, I'd make sure that on Oct. 21 only atheists are on call for tech support, otherwise the unbelieving users left behind will get pretty grumpy. Of course with the decreased number of users, the godless may well see an improvement in network performance from the reduced load so you might want to hold off on those network hardware upgrades to 40Gbps.

Oh, and if you personally will be on the heavenly fast track, then you might want to make sure all of your software updates are pushed out before the big day ... the earthbound users will have a lot more on their minds come Oct. 22 and the last thing they'll need when preparing for the destruction of the world are software bugs in the ERP system or out-of-date antivirus databases.

And make sure you leave your company-owned equipment such as pagers, smartphones and iPads where they can be recovered by whoever is still running IT; you don't want to annoy human resources or the bean counters, all of whom will be left behind.

Of course, as many well-known philosophers have argued, only people who believe in numerology think The Rapture is a real possibility. That said, those same philosophers all point out that there's a real risk that the Zombie Apocalypse will happen. And quite soon.

What? Yes, of course this is a real concern because at some point a government-engineered Doomsday virus is going to escape from Area 51 (or the Bronx Zoo, I forget which) causing, according to Harvard chap Steven C. Schlozman, who wrote "The Zombie Autopsies: Secret Notebooks from the Apocalypse," an outbreak of transmissible Ataxic Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency Syndrome that turns people into the walking dead with a taste for human brains (he also theorizes that they suffer from constipation ... but I digress).

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Oh, and in fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some very good advice about how to prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse.

So, even if there's no Rapture, you're going to have a whole new set of risks to plan for. For example, is your data center physical security sound enough to withstand the hordes of zombies pounding on the doors?

When you have to run out to the Marketing Department at midnight (like you do) and replace a defective PC, do you have a clear plan for how to avoid the corridors and walkways where you might get ambushed? Will you have anything handy with which to decapitate the Head of Sales should the opportunity present itself (and please be certain that she's actually a zombie and not just normally aggressive)?

Yes, disaster planning for IT has always been a tough job and it's not going to get any easier. Good luck and see you on the other side. Or not.

Gibbs is preparing for the worst in Ventura, Calif. Your apocalyptic thoughts to backspin@gibbs.com.

Learn more about this topic

Disaster planning: Before, during and after

Don't let your PC join the zombie hordes

Web sites for the apocalypse

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