Hurricane Katrina has destroyed tens of thousands of PCs and servers. In New Orleans alone many thousands of computer installations will have been flooded out or damaged. The local IT networking infrastructure will have been severely degraded.

The Louisiana Technology Guide lists lots of IT-related businesses in the area. It includes the New Orleans mayor's office IT facility. Tellingly the web site is down.

This large scale disaster will bring data protection and IT disaster recovery concerns to the fore. Every business that has an IT data centre in the region, now non-operational because of the hurricane floods, but which has a DR facility will now be thanking their lucky stars. They were wise to invest in a DR facility. Those that didn't will either be wishing they had or not be concerned at all - because their entire business has gone.

Information Week reports today that: "For the second day, the Times-Picayune, New Orleans' daily paper, published a Web-only edition, as like other businesses and the city's residents, it has had to abandon the city and deal with dislocation."

An article on the web site reads: "A critical question for any rebuilding is whether business, bank and municipal records are salvageable, said Colleen Woodell, a managing director at the Standard & Poor’s rating firm in New York. After the Sept. 11 attacks, firms housed in the World Trade Center struggled with the loss of payroll and other business records, if they didn’t have backups at another location."

It is likely that many datacentres in New Orleans and other affected cities will be rebuilt elsewhere with network links providing the access. There is little point in having a flood-proof and hurricane-proof data centre in New Orleans if the power is out and floods prevent any staff getting to it.

For a computerised business virtually all essential information is on disk or tape. And if that goes down then the business likely goes down too, unless the data is replicated somewhere else, preferably a DR site. If you haven't got replication facilities and a DR plan in your business then New Orleans is an awful reminder that you need to think about such things.