Remember transistors? Of course, you do. It’s just that they’re now buried so deep in the technology we use every day, that we take them for granted. You probably remember the principle of the transistor, too. To put it simply, a transistor acts as an amplifier; at least, that’s one of its functions.

By making a small change in one current flowing through it, you can cause a much bigger change in another current flowing through it. While this is handy for making iPods and spaceships, it’s the tiny-to-tremendous effect itself that we’re discussing here. In particular, IT disasters can be triggered by tiny changes, which are then amplified in catastrophic proportions. But can the same effect be used in reverse for disaster recovery?

That would be so convenient. Just think – an IT disaster occurs, and you just flip a switch or push a button, and you get disaster recovery. Is this possible? The answer is that it depends.

In a story (true or untrue?) about a programming error in a Venus space probe, the answer was no. One single line of code, out of maybe millions, contained a comma, where it should have contained a full stop. This minute difference changed the nature of the instruction in that code, and sent the Venus probe on a one-way trip into outer space, out of range of communications, and never to return.

If the space technicians concerned could have made a minute transistor-like change in the code, they would have perhaps averted disaster. Modern day equivalents include putting the wrong replication addresses in automated storage backup and replication procedures.

By the time the procedure has finished, it’s too late for disaster recovery if all your disks, backup disks, and replication disks have been overwritten with the wrong data. However, in other cases, such as correctly configured cloud failovers, the transistor effect can still work for you.

A simple traffic rerouting change to cloud emergency facilities can give you usable IT resources in a jiffy if your on-premises systems go down – and, of course, if you’ve correctly prepared your disaster recovery ahead of time.