Outsmarting Disaster: Protect Your Business Before it Strikes

Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a major crisis to get decision-makers, in both the public and private sectors, to put together adequate plans to effectively prepare for, respond to and recover from natural or man-made disasters.

While disaster response and recovery efforts were common prior to Sept.11, government and private organizations placed a much higher emphasis on business continuity planning in the aftermath of the attacks.  They began building more resiliency and back-up systems into their business technology infrastructure.nuclear_disaster

This should come as no surprise considering only two of the 131 businesses whose technology was directly affected by Sept. 11 attacks were able to perform a successful failover, despite the magnitude of the disruption.  Of the 129 remaining sites, 70 percent (90 businesses) were able to resume some level of critical business operation after 120 hours (5 days) of downtime. The remaining 30 percent (39) lost their data completely.

In light of these facts, the hard question needs to be asked…

Is your business capable of sustaining an event that poses a real threat to its ability to continue with core business operations?

Technology is the piston that drives a business’s core processes.  As such, much consideration should be given to how these processes will continue to operate in the event certain resources of today are not available tomorrow.

  1. What if a leaky sprinkler pipe slowly drips water on your servers, which are located in “the room that no one ever goes into” ?
  2. What if a fire breaks out and destroys not only your servers, but the stack of data backup tapes stored on top of the servers for quick access and convenience?
  3. What if the facility you are accustomed to being at each day is leveled by a category five hurricane?

The point to this line of questioning is that a disaster can come in many shapes and sizes.  You often have little to no warning prior to its impact. The amount of downtime you’re forced to incur can prove catastrophic to your business and its ability to survive long-term.

Have verifiable plans in place for such a situation.  A deep understanding of how your business transactions function is critical to creating verifiable plans.  It’s important to understand which core business processes must survive in the event of a disaster. Questions must be answered as to what operations currently support key business processes.

Ask yourself:

  • What are the various obstacles posing a threat to these operations?
  • How can we plan to preserve these operation given a worst-case scenario?
  • Have we tested our contingency plan to ensure it’s well thought-out and up-to-date with the most current business needs?

As reliance on technology intensifies, it’s critical to recognize the competitive advantages associated with an established technology portfolio.  However, it’s equally important to realize the ramifications of not being able to access that technology in the off-chance that the unlikely becomes likely.

How would it affect your business if your competitor had its business up and running before you could even figure out what wasn’t working? If you are in Houston, how did Hurricane Ike affect restoration of key operations?

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