Tuesday, 12 November 2013

If Only Disasters Were a Video Game - Continuity Management at its Finest?

Nothing gets an organization collaborating together like a minor disaster. Teams that would otherwise not work in close proximity are sharing ideas and working to get the business back up and running. Unfortunately this is not the ideal way to test out our disaster recovery plans, if one has been formalized. If one hasn’t, we say “let’s not have that happen again?  

Now check back with these same organizations a few months after a “disaster” has occurred. Has anything improved? In environments where disasters due to nature are less frequent you may even find that they have reverted into their “we are swamped” mentality and nothing has really improved.

However, planning for the worst case scenario also affords you the opportunity to have a dialog with the business in simplest terms regarding what services are critical and in what capacity.

The overall objective of the Service Continuity process should align with whatever the continuity plans are for the business since they should line up with the business outcomes.

You don’t have a formalized process for this? Or you have a document that is so old that it likely has very little value? It might be time to review with your team on the ins and outs of Service Continuity

Firstly you should have a fundamental understanding of what services are critical to business continuity and what the impact is of the loss of those services. It should also be understood that some disasters may be lengthy so while some business functionality may not be critical on date x or for duration y there should be some additional consideration put in if the disaster lasts for a longer period of time. As an example if your data center is in a location that was swallowed by a sinkhole it may take a significant period of time to restore.

Once we have an understanding on “what” we really need to think about “how” we can mitigate risk or restore services in the event of a disaster. Enter the disaster recovery plan. This document should be able to guide teams to restoring services in a 1-2-3 approach. Depending on the organization there will be varying levels of recovery options available, whether it is a more manual process or if your organization requires you may be bound by your business to have a disaster recovery site which mirrors your data center.

Disaster can come in all shapes and sizes; they do not have to be natural disasters. In the event that your electricity provider had an outage which impacts your data center would you be able to have services available.

Like fire drills you should also test the disaster recovery. This should include everything in the process from notifying the appropriate people that there is a disaster through to recovery and then to reverting back to regular service. These drills will point out potential holes in your process as well as any gaps technologically you might encounter

Regular review of your continuity management process will allow you to be as prepared as possible should the need arise

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