July 2, 2012 | Written by: Rich Cocchiara
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The increasingly connected world has magnified the impact on every aspect of life, including its disruptions. Uncontrollable events and often unexpected natural disasters such as tropical storms, fires, floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, even volcanoes have taken their toll on businesses.
Many businesses can’t afford to be down even one hour without fear of losing personal data or damaging their corporate reputation. Companies rely on their entire network from handling mobile transactions, web interactions and channel communications to conducting business and making sales. When any piece of that network goes down, people lose trust – and that can be difficult to get back.
As individuals and businesses prepare for the season’s potential storms, you should be asking how well would your company survive the reputational impact of major disruption?
Cloud as a Business Essential in an “Emergency Kit”
While the typical emergency supplies for an individual consists of water, batteries and food, businesses need to seriously evaluate their readiness plan. And one secret weapon that can help businesses weather the storm — the cloud.
Cloud technology has the capability to protect data from an offsite location thousands of miles away, and can even recover data from a remote location should an unexpected event disrupt your site.
Cloud offers companies of all sizes options they did not have in the past. It gives businesses the kind of disaster recovery that used to only be available to larger companies. This can be increasingly critical for the kinds of “born on the web companies” that rely on their own Web-based services. Industrial-strength disaster recovery means the ability to protect data and hardware using cloud services for backup, resilience and recovery with the type of protection that goes beyond their own datacenter. This would have been unthinkable years ago.
The cloud is the ultimate risk management tool for ensuring a company’s ability to recover from a disaster or rapidly scale in minutes versus hours.
A statewide human services agency in a hurricane prone region is using the cloud to bring more continuity to their operations so that in case of a disruption, the agency can continue to serve more than 200,000 citizens with community-based help such as economic development, immigration services, and family health education, youth and senior programs.
With IBM’s SmartCloud Managed Backup solution, the organization’s critical data is no longer at risk. Beyond the hurricane threat, the cloud enables the organization to easily accommodate growth and expanding needs of citizens.
In today’s on demand environment, it’s important for business of all sizes around the globe to rapidly adapt and respond to risks, as well as opportunities, to maintain continuous access to data for personal and business reasons.
IBM’s Six Tips for Disaster Preparedness
A holistic plan that covers both employees and technology can help businesses mitigate their risk. Ensure your business is prepared and follow IBM’s six tips for disaster preparedness:
1. Consider your Service Level Agreement—Don’t assume that your cloud services include backup and recovery. Probe to make sure that you have resiliency and recovery as part of your SLA contract. Think carefully about how quickly you need your data to be restored and what data is mission-critical. Work with a vendor that provides the skills you need to assess your risk levels and apply the right services.
2. Validate your data backup plan – Verify that your data is out of harm’s way and/or is accessible to your recovery location. Consider using a cloud service to store key data and allow your organization more flexibility to respond to changing conditions with minimal interruption to the business.
3. Develop various ways to communicate with employees, partners – After people, the next most important element is communication. Communications efforts must be timely, clear and honest, as miscommunication can make a disaster even worse. Consider how you would communicate with your employees, partners, clients, media, industry, and vice versa, what training you have provided, what tools are you using and — very important — test the communications plan.
4. Think about the “domino effect” when considering business risk – Years of experience monitoring regional disasters has shown that these events often create other events. For example, a hurricane normally has high winds and heavy rains that can lead to flooding, structural damage, power outage, telecommunication and/or travel disruptions.
5. Plan for catastrophic events that could last a while – For example, businesses must consider the impact if the duration of the disruption to the facility, network, technology, or people is longer than a period of three days, one week, etc. Over the past decade, we have seen more devastating disaster events with a longer term duration and financial impact. Companies need to consider their options if their primary environment or key people are not available for more than two weeks.
6. Think broadly – Each company is part of a supply chain or network. While you may do everything right, if you have a critical partner, supplier, vendor or provider of service, your preparedness is only as good as those other businesses. As part of your disaster recovery plan, ensure everyone upstream and downstream from your business is also prepared.