Business Continuity: Dealing With Disaster

By Samuel Greengard Print this article Print

Disasters and business disruptions are inevitable. An effective disaster recovery and business continuity strategy encompasses people, technology and processes.

By Samuel Greengard

Over the last few years, more than a few organizations have discovered how swiftly and profoundly a disaster can impact business. One of the worse tornado outbreaks in history rampaged across the Midwest and South regions of the United States in the spring of 2011, causing an estimated $27 billion in damage.

In addition, massive and damaging earthquakes have struck Haiti, Chile, New Zealand and Japan. The earthquake in Japan, along with a deadly and damaging tsunami, knocked out some companies for weeks and brought business to a halt.

These days, disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (BC) are not abstract concepts, as the cost of a business disruption can run into millions of dollars. What's more, it can lead to residual problems, including a tarnished reputation and brand.

Unfortunately, "Many organizations are not entirely prepared for disasters," points out David Sarabacha, global leader for resiliency at Deloitte Consulting. “They have inadequate systems and processes in place to deal with an interruption when it occurs.”

As data volumes explode and instant access to systems becomes the standard for conducting business, there's a growing need to position disaster recovery and business continuity at the center of IT. Organizations must build an effective strategy that's flexible enough to deal with today's fast-changing business environment. They must understand risks and potential fallout from downtime for various systems and data classifications, and they must look at new and emerging technologies, including the cloud.

There is no simple path to effective DR and BC. "Getting business continuity and disaster recovery right is a big challenge," states Bob Laliberte, senior analyst for Enterprise Strategy Group. "An organization must understand the risks it faces and how different systems and approaches create an optimal level of protection."

Designing a best- practice DR and BC strategy can prove challenging even for the most tech-savvy businesses and IT leaders. Today, mission-critical data streams in from a growing array of sources, including connected business partners and mobile devices used by employees and customers, so effective DR and BC touches almost every corner of the enterprise.

A starting point for developing a strategy, Deloitte’s Sarabacha says, is to thoroughly understand risk levels associated with business events and data. In many instances, as organizations reduce business partners and consolidate supply chains, risk actually increases because an organization is more dependent on data and systems tied into a fewer number of companies. In addition, many industries—health care, pharmaceutical and financial services among them—must adhere to a growing spate of regulations. For many organizations, staying current with rapidly changing business conditions is an enormous challenge.

This article was originally published on 2012-06-04
Samuel Greengard is a freelance writer for Baseline.
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