The Business Continuity Wake Up Call

By Michael Hart (Profile)
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Wednesday, June 5th 2013
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Good Morning?

Imagine waking up to a phone call at 2am from your CIO saying that she isn’t getting email on her smartphone. Then you receive another call from your CEO saying the branch office in California cannot access the shared directory. Your remote access is not working so you throw on some clothes and head into the office. Some of you reading are probably shaking your head saying, “Been there. Done that.”

Now imagine that you arrived and find the fire department coming out of your building as you receive the call from your CIO that she just got a call that there was a fire. You are happy to find out that the FM-200 fire suppression system did its job and reduced the damage to the servers and storage however your wiring closet, where the fire started, was not that lucky. Fiber cables have been melted, switches destroyed and C-Level folks wanting to know when this will be fixed.

Stop. Take a deep breath. Now call your BC/DR partner.

You are glad that you thought ahead. That offsite environment that you have tested every month is ready to show its value. Your servers have been replicating non-stop right up to the time of the fire. No data loss, no backup tapes to go through. A flip of the DNS and everyone is running from the backup site. The wireless cards from your mobile phone company are providing the needed connectivity to the VPN connection. Everyone is back to work. Three hours from your first call and functionality is restored.

A few days later your location is back up and running in your datacenter and at the Post Incident Review (PIR) you get to listen to the C-Levels sing your praise. Ok. Maybe that part isn’t 100% real, but the rest is highly plausible.

  • "40% of all companies that experience a major disaster will go out of business if they cannot gain access to their data within 24 hours." –Gartner
  • "43% of companies experiencing disasters never re-open and 29% close within two years." -McGladrey and Pullen
  • "93% of businesses that lost their datacenter for 10 days went bankrupt within one year." -National Archives & Records Administration

How can you get to the scenario above? The Lucky 7

You are a virtualized company. 80% of your infrastructure is virtual. It only goes to say that your IT Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plans should support your virtual world. There are a few technologies out there that can be used to protect your business. When you sit down to choose the company that you will be entrusting your business to, use these questions to help make the decision:

  1. Is the solution “virtual ready”?
  2. Can it support your mission-critical application needs?
  3. Is it hardware vendor agnostic?
  4. How difficult is it to implement?
  5. How scalable is it?
  6. How will it affect the performance of my virtual environment?
  7. Can it be used if I migrate to the Cloud?

You should educate yourself about Business Continuity before you move forward in your decision making. The Federal Government has a nice centralized site called Ready.Gov. Start there and then Google around for more information. Once you are comfortable in the basics, move on to research and testing of the Virtual BC/DR solutions.