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Hurricane Sandy Anniversary Should Drive DR Assessments

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Business Continuity Plans Should Be Reassessed Before Hurricane Sandy Anniversary

As businesses approach the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, decision-makers are encouraged to revisit their business continuity efforts to assess whether their current plans are as effective as they need to be to keep operations running in the wake of an emergency. In many cases, executives believe that deploying one disaster recovery program will be enough to keep them safe in the near future and in the long run. Unfortunately, this isn't necessarily the case.

Disaster recovery programs need to incorporate a number of things, including communications and how business phone systems and other critical collaborative tools will be brought back together following a disruption. Executives must also look as their data management strategies to evaluate whether backup tools are up to date and have the most current resources, as trying to restore mission-critical processes with outdated assets will not deliver the level of performance that companies need in a post-disaster setting.

A new risk bulletin from Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) highlighted the importance of reassessing business continuity and disaster plans as the Hurricane Sandy anniversary draws near. Natural and man-made disasters can be a costly problem for organizations of all sizes and industries, which should be enough to encourage decision-makers to build effective plans that will keep operations running in the long run, regardless of uncontrollable circumstances.

"Many businesses are not as prepared as they could be. Today businesses need to prepare for the new normal of weather events and this can be a laborious process," said Tom Varney, regional risk consulting manager in the Americas for Allianz. "For many companies it takes time - in some cases years - to appropriate funding and actually make the much needed changes. For others it may just be about focusing on the right things at the right time."

Know All Risks and Opportunities

All companies need to be prepared to withstand unexpected events, as this is the foundation of any successful business continuity endeavor. In other words, organizations need to think about their assets and how any exposed information may lead to various problems down the line. If companies are reliant on old phone systems, how will employees communicate when a hurricane knocks out the power? If businesses maintain in-house storage environments, what will individuals do when they lose access to these architectures?

These are just a few of the many considerations that organizations must think about when building a recovery initiative. Additionally, enterprises need to think about their location and the natural disasters that may occur in their region. Companies along the coast may want to think about hurricanes, for example, while businesses in tornado alley need to consider windstorms. AGCS highlighted how every situation will require a different type of plan, as there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to disaster recovery.

Yet, when one door shuts, another one opens, right? Taking a positive approach to negative situations may allow executives to recognize new opportunities. Rather than relying on outdated communication tools, for instance, enterprises should consider implementing a hosted PBX solution, which is hosted off-site and is more likely to be available to individuals in the wake of an emergency.

Keep Plans Updated Through Regular Screening

Preparation is critical to ensuring disaster recovery strategies have the ability to deliver the results that companies are looking for. This means that decision-makers must test their plans and update them as necessary, AGCS stated. A well-documented program will ease the testing process, as employees can simply read through them to refresh their memory. At the same time, however, decision-makers should be sure to conduct dry runs to ensure everyone knows what they are supposed to do in a post-emergency scenario.

A recent Zerto study of more than 350 IT managers found that 76 percent of respondents experienced a data center outage within the past year, though 7 percent of organizations had no disaster recovery plan in place. Unfortunately, 30 percent of decision-makers said they test their initiatives once a year, while another 18 percent claimed to have never evaluated their programs. This means that companies are simply hoping for the best instead of taking the more effective, proactive approach.

"Though more than three-quarters of respondents reported having experienced an outage in the last 12 months, and many have a DR solution in place, few are confident their DR solution will actually work," said Ziv Kedem, co-founder and CEO of Zerto. "This study reflects that while many solutions are available for disaster recovery, no legacy solutions are providing the service levels and simplicity needed for mission-critical application protection in virtualized and cloud environments."

Enterprises that want to remain competitive in the long run and maintain operations in the wake of a disaster need to consider updating their practices and evaluating strategies on a regular basis. By replacing old phone systems, storage environments and other crucial technologies with more up-to-date and efficient offerings, companies may put themselves in a better position to come out of an uncontrollable situation in a functional state.