Today’s official start of the hurricane season is a timely reminder that networks and data access can be disrupted at any time from natural and man-made disasters. It’s a good time for IT teams to re-evaluate their business continuity and disaster recovery plans so their organization can be prepared for the unexpected. Here are our top tips for disaster recovery so you can resume operations quickly — and minimize negative impact — when disaster strikes.
Business continuity is not something you implement at the time of a disaster. It’s all about proactive planning and assessing your risks before a problem occurs. Learn how IT fits into every aspect of your organization’s operations, from deliveries to ordering, from voice capabilities to data storage and retrieval. By knowing how your IT operations are connected to these functions, you’ll be able to work with colleagues in other departments to develop an effective, cross-functional business continuity plan that spells out a continuity and response plan for every scenario. In our experience, clearly defined roles and a well-defined chain of command is vital to a good plan.
The team can help identify your company’s critical components, such as facilities, employees, business processes, IT systems, applications, data, platforms, and networks. Understanding which components are most important to your daily operations will help you identify the vulnerabilities in your business processes and network infrastructure. It will also help you assess the impact a disaster, outage or shutdown would have on employees, customers partners, and other stakeholders.
To be an effective partner in the business continuity process, identify your organization’s most valuable assets and critical business functions – i.e., those that must be preserved in an emergency – and then determine how dependent those assets and business functions are on the company’s business systems and networks. In the event of disaster, outage or shutdown, which of these technology channels would be absolutely essential to keeping your most important business assets functioning? Which functions could your business do without, and for how long? What data is critical? Identify alternative operations centres and equipment. Back up your data and understand how to access cloud-based data. If you are concerned about your network or data centre provider, take the time to understand their resilience. Consider infrastructure solutions with redundant, diverse, private, or higher availability networks to meet your continuity needs.
You can’t prevent all disasters from happening but with a strong plan and processes, you can greatly reduce the negative impact on your business and speed up recovery times. Here’s our preparation checklist for developing or updating your disaster recovery plan:
- Implement system and data backup arrangements and the key procedures to support your recovery strategy
- Leverage third party colocation data centres, including those that offer cloud computing, to minimize IT risk issues
- Negotiate vendor contracts and/or lease agreements to acquire equipment and services that will help you in the event of a disaster
- Upgrade network and business data security such as firewalls, intrusion detection, hacker protection, password authentication, and data encryption
- Assess and strengthen your network redundancy and re-routing capabilities, as well as your work-around procedures and/or contingency plans
- Evaluate critical vendor and business partner disaster recovery capabilities in the event that they’re impacted by the same disaster
If you have not fully addressed your communication dependencies, consider Zayo’s solutions and team of professionals. Our experience and insight means we can help you quickly pinpoint vulnerabilities, address potentially dangerous situations and document a plan to mitigate the risk should an event ever occur.