When disaster strikes, will your business recover?By Eli Sabatier
The terms Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery are words that seem to get thrown around a lot. For many, the terms simply mean that after a major flood, fire, or hurricane that business will recover in a timely manner. And, in some ways, that’s accurate. However, there are factors that play into Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery that many forget. It’s for this reason that many companies find themselves in a bad place even after the tamest of so-called disasters.
For instance, let’s first delve into the concept of disaster. What constitutes an actual disaster? For so many, it’s the scenarios listed above—floods, fires, or major weather events that impact multiple companies, cities or entire regions, often forcing many to stop business for a prolonged period. And yes, these examples are all true disasters. However, in the now always-on world that we collectively inhabit, a disaster for the end-user / customer can be perceived as just as devastating.
Think of a company that relies on a third-party data center to maintain its services to its customers. If that data center is hit with a major weather incident, the company that relies on that data center is also suffering. And though it may be countries apart with no connection to the weather-related event, the company too will suffer a disaster of its own from which it must recover.
As a different example, a major bank in the US (that shall remain nameless) suffered a major disaster earlier this year, one that shut down bank machine services for several days. However, far from fires and hurricanes, this was caused by a fire suppression system that took out a stack of servers. No flames, but still a disaster. And, of course, there are also factors that fall outside of anyone’s control. From increasingly harsh weather patterns, to political unrest, to cyber attacks, and more, we as a global village are all susceptible to forces that we may never see coming.
So, the question is, what truly constitutes a disaster? Is it the cause that you should be worried about or the outcome? Rarely is the cause important—regardless of what it is, the impact remains the same—it’s how you react to the outcome that will make or break the recovery.
Then there is also the calculation of how long is too long to recover? Again, in our always-on world, profits are measured in nano-seconds. As services drop, so do profits. Referring back to the floods, fires, and hurricanes, do any of these scenarios fall within hours, days, or weeks when it comes to the forgiving nature of your customers? Though many may feel sympathetic to your plight, they themselves still need service.
It’s this calculation that becomes paramount for recovery. So many times, we have seen companies try to recover and restore everything at once. And though I’m sure restoring financial records from six years ago is important to some, the fact remains that the more data being restored all at once will inevitably slow down the process. This is where a good Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plan takes effect.
For some, Business Continuity may be instantaneous—and we applaud you. It means that you have full-time redundancies in place, with no single-points-of-failure. However, for many that may not be feasible due to technological or financial constraints, or simply due to the business model.
In these cases, what is restored and how quickly can be a make-or-break scenario. For instance, perhaps your business model requires call-center functionality or phone systems to be operational 24/7 as the first line of contact. In these cases, phone systems should be the first in the plan to be restored. For some, it could be connectivity to SaaS for your customers—then that becomes the priority while phone systems and email can wait to be restored second, third, and so on.
In short, it’s all relative to you and your business model. However, without an evolving Business Continuity Plan (BCP), you’re operating without a safety net. It’s how you plan for that safety net that will either keep you in business, or you’ll suffer the consequences.
To make the first steps in planning a little easier for you, or as just a sanity check on how your current business continuity plan measures up, here’s one of our latest eBooks: Business Continuity Planning and Why it Matters. It tackles subjects including resiliency, recovery, contingency, and more. And, if you’d like to give us a call, we offer a free Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery assessment that can add insight into what you have, and what may be missing.