Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Sunday, May 26, 2024

4 Lessons from NYSE, United Airlines & WSJ 

By now, I think we all know the gory details from July 8. But just to remind you, it was a rough day:

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) was down for more than three hours, removing all scheduled and in-process transactions.

United Airlines grounded all flights for more than hour.

The Wall Street Journal website went down for 30 minutes during the NYSE’s outage.

In other words, the Information Supply Chain was materially disrupted.

As our digital world has evolved, IT departments are capable and able to respond to glitches, hiccups and isolated outages. But when technicalities become major incidents, companies often struggle to figure out what to do. In fact, in one 2015 survey of more than 300 IT professionals, more than 60 percent of respondents said it takes at least as long to just find the people required to fix an issue as it does to actually fix it.

Enablers of Disruption

Software glitches and technical difficulties may be the triggers, but the reason these events could happen is that global businesses rely on so many interdependent digital components.

Most of the time, that’s a good thing. Interdependencies create redundancies that produce resilience. These are like synapses in your brain, and they enable the fantastic speed of business and social technology that we enjoy today.

But sometimes so much connectivity allows one glitch to bring down a whole operation.

Targets for Terror

NYSE, United Airlines, and the Wall Street Journal all claim technical difficulties as their culprits, and no evidence of a more sinister cause has surfaced. Some have speculated the news of NYSE and United Airlines flooded the WSJ website with more traffic than it could handle.

United Airlines and the NYSE would both be prime targets for a cyber attack because of the global economic impact.

“When it comes to future cyber attacks, infrastructure — from power grids to nuclear power systems — remains a big target and a major concern,” Biscom CEO Bill Ho told Enterprise Technology last week.

Responding to Disruption

Regardless of the cause, there are steps companies must take to limit the duration and effect of a service disruption.

Be Realistic

“It won’t happen to me” is not a setup for success. It happens to all businesses. Be prepared.

Have a Process

When your business suffers a business disruption, getting relevant information into the hands of your team just can’t wait. The urgency is exacerbated when other companies rely on your service for their services. Does your process include your customers?

Resolving the incident is only half of the battle. At the risk of sounding cynical, presentation is everything, so how you communicate to the public and your customers can be crucial to your company’s reputation.

Follow Up

Once you’ve resolved the issue, be sure to circle back and find out what caused the outage. I assure you the Wall Street Journal, United Airlines and the NYSE (all capable, great companies) are doing that right now.

Always Improve

Use the results of your post mortem analysis and ongoing metrics to improve your major incident processes. Use the data to automate your processes where you can with enabling, resilient technologies.

Preventing downtime is always preferable, but it’s just not always possible. When incidents do occur, the speed of resolution is crucial to your finances, your reputation, and to your customers. Resolving incidents quickly is part of being a good global citizen in the Information Supply Chain. Please be prepared.

About the Author:

TroyMcAlpinTroy McAlpin is CEO of xMatters Inc. He brings more than 20 years of experience to his leadership role at xMatters, with expertise in process automation, strategic initiatives, and corporate strategy. Troy's domain experience includes IT strategy and vertical market expertise, including technology, banking, consumer and retail industries. Prior to founding xMatters (formerly AlarmPoint Systems), he managed marketing, sales, development, M&A, and financial aspects at two successful start-up companies and also worked at AT&T Solutions and Andersen. Follow Troy on Twitter at: @tmcalpinxm or xMatters at: @xMatters_inc

About the author: Alison Diana

Managing editor of Enterprise Technology. I've been covering tech and business for many years, for publications such as InformationWeek, Baseline Magazine, and Florida Today. A native Brit and longtime Yankees fan, I live with my husband, daughter, and two cats on the Space Coast in Florida.