Disaster Recovery: Harvey, the Cloud & the Maytag Repair Guy

I have been through several hurricanes and natural disasters. I have seen weeks without access to our office and I have even helped haul servers down flights of stairs so that we could get offices set up and operational.

It has been a tough two weeks here in Houston. Hurricane Harvey dumped over 4 feet of water on our city. Water covered houses and roads and we had no way to get to the office. I worried about my family, my team, my friends and even my home.

There was one thing that I did not worry about at all. I never lost a minute’s sleep over our data or how soon our office could be up and running. In fact, there were moments that I was logged in working during the middle of the hurricane. This is the benefit of cloud computing. We have no redundant servers. No backups. In fact, we have no servers in our office. Nothing to haul down stairs or set up in a remote location. No, we aren’t a small firm. Over 100 people potentially affected by Harvey.

Looking for lost time

I had our Chief Administrative Officer, Emily Mazey and our Employee Experience Officer, Amanda Shook, look into missed time for the week and encourage our team to take advantage of the federal benefits for disaster unemployment. They did. And they came back to me and said “Wes, people worked all week. They weren’t unemployed, there are hours charged to clients. The work never stopped”. Wow. We got something right. We were in the cloud. Our team carried on in the midst of the worst hurricane in decades and a flood described as a “500 year flood”.

  • CCH Axcess has our practice management, workflow, tax program and document management system in the cloud. As long as we had internet access, we had the ability to carry on as usual.
  • Microsoft 365, in the cloud, gave us uninterrupted email, chat and calendar services.
  • Our Brand Experience Officer Catherine Seitz and Partner Stan Raines set up a text messaging system for us to communicate and assist others. The communication lines were open.
  • CCH Engagement and Quickbooks, both hosted in military grade data centers, never went down.

A textbook example

Our experience provides a textbook disaster recovery case study for cloud based computing. If you aren’t going to change because it is just the smartest and most efficient way to do business, then consider it for this #1 reason. When a natural disaster strikes, you will be prepared. Your disaster recovery plans will look like ours: a laptop.

There was one guy who wasn’t stressing over disaster recovery. Our internal IT guy, Cory Dial. Can you picture the Maytag repair guy? That’s Cory. Cory is important to our organization, but he can focus on service and strategy.

To learn more about how the cloud has helped MRZ create a culture of growth and innovation, watch our webinar – Walking the Walk: Your Firm Culture in Practice.

Reprinted, with permission, from Harvey, the Cloud & the Maytag Repair Guy.


Wesley Middleton

Managing Partner, MiddletonRaines+Zapata

All stories by: Wesley Middleton