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The Cloud, Canvas, and Hurricane Sandy
October 28, 2012 - 9:11pm

How are you preparing for Hurricane Sandy?  

Will this major weather event provide evidence for the resilience or the fragility of our postsecondary systems, which are increasingly reliant on power and bandwidth to operate?  

Does the growth of blended and online learning mean less or more class time lost to weather?

What steps do you take to prepare your students and faculty for weather events such as Sandy, and how has this preparation changed?  

While contemplating these questions about weather and the changing nature of higher ed a note from the Instructure Canvas support team crossed my inbox (I'm not a Canvas customer, but I'm trying to keep track of the LMS providers). The e-mail was titled "Planning ahead for Hurricane Sandy".  

Part of the text read:

"The East Coast is about to be hit by a major hurricane, called 'Hurricane Sandy.' Meteorologists are predicting that this will have a serious impact in the Northeast and/or Mid-Atlantic regions, which is where Canvas is currently hosted by Amazon Web Services."

"If the storm develops as predicted, we anticipate that at least some portion of AWS will be negatively affected, perhaps even with complete power losses in some data centers. We will be closely monitoring the situation and working around any failures as quickly as possible."

"We are also preparing for the possibility that the entire region becomes unavailable. Per our Disaster Recovery Plan, if it becomes clear that the AWS Eastern region will be down for an extended period, we will move Canvas traffic to data centers on the West Coast."

"We will keep you notified in the event of any disruption to Canvas services."

It is clear to me that Instructure is modeling best practices in communication around the delivery of technology services. 

The company sent out a message to customers well ahead of the event warning of a possible service disruption. The company was clear on the specifics of the risks, and the steps that the company is taking to mitigate any potential unplanned downtime. It is clear that the company is on top of the situation, and will be working diligently to minimize the disruption brought on by the weather event. Customers of Canvas can choose how they want to notify students and instructors, and can provide some solid information about why service might be disrupted.

Do you think that we are less or more vulnerable to services and unplanned downtime as more and more of our key educational services move from locally to cloud hosted?

Have you gotten similar messages leading up to Hurricane Sandy from your other hosted or cloud based service providers?

How has the growth of cloud services changed how you prepare and react to events like Hurricane Sandy?


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