Houston, Texas, a city sitting on the Gulf of Mexico is never new to storms, but Hurricane Harvey was an earth shattering 1000-year flood event. The storm ravaged city housing nearly half of the Fortune 500 companies was inundated and halted by unprecedented rainfall. Despite the $150 billion damage and heavy death toll, smart companies equipped with resiliency tools and planning defied the catastrophic storm and remotely continued their business operations. The doomsday preparations of CIOs helped in recovering Information Technology (IT) systems and preventing disruptions to business from the apocalyptic event.
This event tells us how organizations in Houston learned hard lessons from previous experiences and adapted their IT ecosystem for cataclysmic disasters.
Also, it showed us the real value of IT disaster planning. Therefore, preparing in advance helps companies in receiving multitude of benefits. Here are some tricks to ruggedize your IT against extreme events:
Preparing IT Disaster Plan: It is important to reconsider the endogenic & exogenic factors and relevant threats hovering over the business data for preparing the IT disaster plan. Backing up the data centre or shifting to a higher location is simply not enough. The geography where the organization is situated must be evaluated for identifying potential threats to data. Solutions for quickly resuscitating the data must also be there in place to keep the systems functionally operating.
Positioning Backup Platforms: Data centre backup is critical as well as treacherously difficult. Organizations need robust data recovery capabilities for securing data after a disaster. Backup platforms and data connectivity solutions help organizations in accessing data from any place and at anytime. Availability of hybrid integration platforms help organizations in combining transformative data backup solutions, i.e, Dell EMC, Commvault, etc. with critical business systems and augmenting the data recovery process.
Another best practice followed by forward thinking organizations is the usage of power backup generators for powering their facilities during prolonged blackout.
Establishing a Bi-Modal IT: Moving the data to cloud is good but it is not feasible when there is shortage of time. Also, many organizations still prefer keeping their confidential information, i.e., patents, trademarks, trade secrets, health records, etc. on premise. Therefore organizations must keep a bimodal IT where data can be moved safely across anywhere & any endpoint in the IT architecture. This ensures that shutting down of one data centre does not impact operations at other centres.
Training the Staff: An organization can get out of toughest situations if the staff is well trained and informed. Many entities often neglect this part and fail to develop a comprehensive resiliency plan. An organization should define IT roles of backup and security personnel in advance to ensure business continuity during emergencies. This helps in creating a harmonious culture of prudence and innovation.
Safeguarding IT Security: Intrusions can occur at a data centre which has been abandoned due to waterlogging or earthquake. Moreover, malware intruders and hackers can take advantage of temporary relinquishment of data centre and paralyze applications for several weeks. Such situations can be averted using software defined perimeter (stolen data and erasures), mobile threat management and better access management. Moreover, endpoint security can be layered with better data governance and management.
Updating the IT Disaster Plan: Organizations should conduct regular drills to keep the disaster resiliency plan updated. The plan needs to be tested and reinvented over and again considering emerging business needs and technologies. New age development approaches, technologies and systems should be studied and deployed for future proofing the IT Disaster Plan. This practice also minimizes the scope for data redundancy.
IT disaster planning is not a one time insurance anymore and CIOs must continue to push forward innovations for ruggedizing their systems against natural calamities causing costly interruptions.
CIO’s should not wait for events to happen and envision a strategy to ensure continued success of organization.