If you are going to be stranded anywhere, it is better to be stranded in an apartment on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, than stuck in the Moscow airport. Last night as we were preparing for our Red-eye flight to Moscow and then onto to New York City, JFK International Airport, we were barraged with email and calls from friends and family advising us to “stay put”. The miracle of technology enabled us to get the information, plan an alternate flight (by calling the New York office of Transaero Airlines), and then continue to do business. We have declared our “vacation” over and resumed full time work; implementing our “business interruption” strategy.
- Emails. We use hosted exchange server (www.ownwebnow.com) which serves up emails to my iPhone 4, as well as our laptop computers running outlook. Through OWA (Outlook Web Access) we can also communicate via email from any browser.
- Phone Calls. Verizon (my cell phone provider) has roaming in Israel (albeit at $1.99 per minute). But I also have an 8×8 VOIP App (www.8×8.com) which is tied directly into our business system. It allows us to send and receive calls (from a New York phone exchange) from anywhere in the world where we have access to WiFi. Incidentally, we also have Skype (www.skype.com) where we have enabled the voice-out service which charges between 2 and 5 cents a minute for pre-paid calls.
- News. For up to the minute news we had the Google iPhone app. We also used the NY Time App, and frequented news.yahoo.com and news.google.com via my Safari Browser.
- Client Files. For our client files, we have recently become channel and implementation partners with NetDocuments (www.netdocuments.com). There is browser version of NetDocuments. And on our laptops, we can access client files from within Microsoft Office just as if we were sitting back in our office in New York City.
- Work Files. For our active work files (collections of document assembly templates, programming tools, and system analyses), we move those into DropBox (www.dropbox.com) over a year ago. We did that to allow co-development with our clients, via shared file folders. But we also did it for disaster preparedness. While “traveling” in Israel, we simply pointed our HotDocs libraries to the local copy of the “dropbox” as opposed to the network copy of the “dropbox” on our server, and continued to work. With the business interruption occasioned by Hurricane Irene, we simply continued working in our Dropbox. NetDocuments may be rolling out a feature set similar to that of DropBox at which time we may switch to that.
- Remote Access. For years we have worked with Citrix Online, using GoToMyPC, GoToMeeting, and GoToAssist. All our PC’s are connected with remote access GoToMyPC clients. If we need anything, we can remote into our PC’s and transfer any required files to the DropBox.
- Disaster Recovery. If our office is flooded, we have also implemented online backup. We use JungleDisk (www.jungledisk.com). Desktop backup is free. But we use the enterprise version for our server. It is $5 month, first 10 GB storage included, and then 15 cents per gigabyte. At that rate 110 GB storage is $20/month. But you pay for what you actually use. JungleDisk is now owned by Rackspace.com.
- Devices. We are traveling with 2 laptops (one from Dell and one from HP), a netbook (from Acer), an iPhone and three iTouch devices. We have access, news and entertainment for the whole family.
OPEN FOR BUSINESS.
We are open for business today; our vacation has ended. And we are due back in the New York on Tuesday afternoon unless the storm destruction further delays us. So as you can see, we have been inconvenienced, but we are prepared. The difficult choice however is really “WORK or THE BEACH”.