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Re: Is your ISP Influenza-ready?

  • From: Barry Shein
  • Date: Tue Apr 18 15:25:44 2006

On April 18, 2006 at 10:53 [email protected] (David W. Hankins) wrote:
 > On Mon, Apr 17, 2006 at 02:05:41PM -0400, Jared Mauch wrote:
 > > 	Back to the original question, how well could you cope for such
 > > an event?  It's always challenging to think about what would happen
 > > as sometimes it includes the unexpected.
 > All the guidance suggests you're going to lose as much as 40% of your
 > workforce.
 > Well, what intrigues me, is: which 40?

(rest of interesting note snipped because you know how to find it)

(Warning: unnecessary and overly long speculation follows)

Studies of changes brought on by major outbreaks of the plague in
Europe tend to be surprised by the qualitative and unexpected changes
which occurred. Many make sense only in retrospect.

For example, there was recently an article floating around in the news
about how the plagues of 1666 and thereabouts may've brought on the
mini ice age thereafter which itself may've been in part responsible
for motivating the US revolution against Britain in 1776, among other
events, but that's a pretty big one in the course of modern history.

The reasoning was that the plague so reduced both the farming
population and consumption that it caused a lot of farmland to be
abandoned to second growth forest which caused widespread carbon
sequestering or something like that leading to the drop in temperature
and its subsequent effect on European civilization (I won't try to
actually argue that point here but it's intriguing.)

So if you're really expecting something as macro as 40% of the
population dropping dead I think one has to think much bigger and much
more in the realm of unexpected consequences.

As one guess, if 40% of the population dropped dead a more likely
effect than having to continue on with the other 60% of the staff is
that the company would just be unable to deal with the loss of
customers and staff not to mention the services these people are
trying to get to, they're collapsing for the same reasons, a cascade
effect. Most would be closed in short order.

Maybe all of them, kind of like the airlines trying to adjust to
higher fuel costs, many just can't even if the desire to fly (demand)
appears to be sufficient to keep them going the business models just
cease working.

Ok some airlines obviously weathered the change and even prospered but
I hope you get my point that it's way beyond Delta or UA et al just
cutting an appropriate number of flights and staff (which doesn't seem
to have worked), a linear response to a linear problem (higher fuel
costs), and required entire reworking of business models from (ahem!)
the ground up, or dissolution.

Most companies don't go under because they lose a lot of their
revenue, they're often dead due to losing a relatively small amount of
revenue (like 10-15%) due to fixed overheads. For example, do you
think your ISP's landlords are going to let them out of their office
leases just because they have so many fewer staff to seat?
Particularly in the face of a sea of bankruptcies cancelling leases?

You'd probably be smarter just going into the casket business or
something like that, grief counseling perhaps.

        -Barry Shein

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