Channel Insider content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

Alan McDonald was just happy to see the sky on Thursday. The president of Allconnected, a solution provider in Simi Valley, Calif., had been driving around to attend to business when he realized that for the first time in days the haze from the devastating Southern California wildfires had given way to some blue.

It was a welcome sight to McDonald, who’d been calling solution providers he knows in the San Diego area, where some of the worst fires were wreaking havoc, to check on their well-being. Folks in general were coping as best they could, though in many cases they were working with skeleton crews.

One provider, he said, had only three of his employees in the office and the rest were among more than 600,000 people who had to evacuate their homes.

Other technology companies were facing the same circumstances. Sony Electronics closed its 2,500-employee Rancho Bernardo campus for at least two days. San Diego-based managed services provider The IT Pros’ staff was down to bare bones, and 80 percent of its customers had been affected by the fires in some way.

Though fortunate to be out of the way of the fires, McDonald was nonetheless thinking about those affected and what he could do to help them.

He was not alone. Distributor Ingram Micro, whose headquarters in Santa Ana, Calif., was also out of the path of the flames, had been contacting VARs in the affected regions about how the company could help them get through the crisis.

The distributor offered assistance with temporary staffing, field support, incremental credit resources, and also to call the VARs’ customers to offer help in keeping their businesses running.

“We want you to know we’re here to help,” Brian Wiser, senior vice president of sales and vendor management at Ingram Micro, said in an e-mail to solution providers.

Meanwhile, McDonald was discussing with N-able Technologies, a managed services platform vendor in Ottawa, the logistics of implementing a plan to help solution providers in the affected areas. The idea was to give solution providers in need free off-site access to disaster recovery technology so they and their customers could continue to go about their business.

In an e-mail he sent to solution providers that, like him, are part of Ingram Micro’s VentureTech Network, he wrote, “If you or anyone you’ve spoken with has been severely affected by the blaze, please let me know, so we as a group can get together and help however possible”

McDonald’s Allconnected is one of three solution providers that have combined forces to form XiloCore, a managed services organization focused on disaster recovery and business continuity. The other providers are Connecting Point of Las Vegas and Connecting Point of Greeley, Colo.

Having made a strategic move with the business continuity venture, McDonald is well-attuned to the need for disaster preparedness.

“You’ve got to have a comprehensive program for disaster recovery,” he said. “It’s something that we talk about all the time.”

Disaster recover is surely on many people’s minds as the fires blaze through Southern California. In general, people have become more attuned to protecting their critical data. One IT Pro’s customer unplugged equipment and drove it away from the building, which was in an endangered area, while in other cases people were leaving offices with backup tapes under their arm.

Once the flames are finally extinguished, there will be plenty of time to evaluate what backup and recovery plans worked and what can be fine-tuned for future disasters.

McDonald and others like him in the meantime will be trying to figure out how they can help their peers through the disaster. In some cases, that means lending a hand to someone who, once back on their feet, might well be a competitor.

Pedro Pereira is editor of eWEEK Strategic Partner and a contributing editor for The Channel Insider. He can be reached at