Carrying inventory of components or finished goods is expensive, pushing manufacturers and distributors to employ "just in time" manufacturing techniques to keep inventories down. To work properly, "just in time" manufacturing requires careful control of supply chains.
IT supply chains can be precarious in the best of times. But a natural disaster can disrupt well-tuned supply chains, break the "just in time" system, and quickly cause shortages and price spikes in key components and products.
The Thailand floods currently wreaking havoc with the hard drive market are only the latest in a string of natural disasters which disrupted IT supply chains, or at least showed just how fragile they are.
Turn the page to look at five recent natural disasters and see just how thin the line between success and failure in the IT business really is.