Disaster Recovery: Bad Things in Bunches

By Ericka Chickowski Print this article Print

After years of progress in disaster recovery and business continuity, advances are beginning to unravel in planning, communication and will. Is your company's risk management plan in line with the best practices in disaster recovery?

Bad Things Happen in Bunches

“It’s not a trend that anybody in the industry would like to see,” Sarabacha says of the growing gap between traditional IT disaster recovery and overall business-continuity management.

As he and other experts explain, when bad things happen to a company, it is almost always forced to mobilize all its recovery efforts at once, from the business and the technical side.

“Business continuity is quite often labeled an IT problem, but it isn’t. It’s a business issue,” says Roy Illsley, analyst with Butler Group.

There are so many interdependencies between business operations and IT that risk managers must communicate with IT disaster-recovery experts in order to prepare appropriately, Illsley explains. For example, he often sees out-of-touch planners from the business side just assume that they will be able to count on their employees to work from home in the event of a disruption—without ever consulting IT.

“But if your capacity on the network is only allowing certain people to get in, you can’t get everybody working from home,” he says. “So, you’ve got to think of technology supporting what the business wants to do in the event of a disaster so that they can work.”

Cooperation beforehand between IT and forward-thinking executives on the business side can be the make-or-break difference between staying afloat after a disaster or drowning in insolvency, Illsley says. One of the best ways to sell a comprehensive program is to look at a case where things were done right, he notes.

“Grolsch is a prime example of an organization that could have completely gone out of existence if they didn’t have a full business-continuity and IT disaster-recovery plan in place,” Illsley says.

In May 2000, after an explosive fire at a neighboring fireworks factory set Grolsch’s primary brewery ablaze, the Dutch company was able to rely on a plan that not only had alternate IT systems back up and running in 48 hours, but also put the logistics to place to replace production with output from a secondary brewery and prearranged factory partnerships with other brewing companies.

“This example demonstrates that having plans to cover all of your major business processes is important, and that sometimes they are all needed together at once,” according to a Butler Group paper on the Grolsch disaster. “The plans must cover technology, people and buildings, and be documented so that, in the event of a full-scale or partial disaster, the people responsible have them in hand when making decisions.”

This article was originally published on 2008-07-22
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