When it comes to securing your business’ future, one thing that the C-Suite needs to understand is that there’s a lot more to business continuity than data backup. Anyone who lives on the Gulf Coast knows that disasters happen. What makes disasters so dangerous is that, in many cases, preparation fails to encompass the magnitude of its after effects. The only way to ensure your business’ future is by going the extra mile when planning for an unforeseen event.
For the C-Suite, profit & loss is the most obvious concern when it comes to a business disruption. What can we do to resume operations as quickly as possible with the least amount of revenue loss? Unfortunately, a significant business disruption can continue to have repercussions long after the event. It’s important to imagine the ripple effect that a loss of operations and profit will have.
- Vendor/Supply Impact – The impact of a disaster affects your relationships with vendors on both sides. Whether you were expecting a shipment of resources for your operations or a customer is awaiting a shipment of your products, your inability to meet demands or store materials jams up your vendors and clients. Long-term interruptions may even mean that a loyal client is forced to use another supplier to keep their business operational.
- Employee Turnover – Looking down the road of disaster recovery, even your most loyal employees may need to move on. Most people can’t afford not to work. Losing employees means that you’re not only going to need to train a new hire – but someone is going to have to cover their duties until another employee is onboarded.
- Loss of Compliance/Certifications – Particularly if data loss was the result of a malicious attack that was not caught by network security measures, there is the possibility that an enterprise will be audited. Depending on the results of the audit, a company may be unable to work on projects requiring security clearance until compliance has been reestablished.
Disasters Comes in All Shapes and Sizes
Another thing that is important to keep in mind when planning for a disaster is that not all disasters are products of major weather related incidences. The most significant contributing factor of a major disruption to business is power failure, followed by hardware failure and even employee error. These disruptions can affect any company, at any time.
There are some pretty harrowing real world examples of data loss. Bartle Bogle Hegarty, a London-based marketing firm had a user ‘cleaning’ folders and documents which ultimately lead to the loss of more than 1,000 files. To make matters worse, their backup was only partially successful, due the lack of emphasis placed on data backup and disaster recovery.
Another example is a simple power outage at a Data Center that led to the web hosting provider, DreamHost’s disruption of service to more than 350,000 users, and two solid days of downtime. This disaster was magnified as the power outage caused several critical pieces of hardware failure due to an issue with an uninterruptable power supply (UPS). Unfortunately, their recovery time was delayed further, as several other outages occurred. Finally, DreamHost decided to use generators to stabilize service until power issues were resolved. The company faced scrutiny for failure to plan appropriately for such issues.
Of course, you can’t be sure you thought of everything, but a solid business continuity plan and annual testing exercises go a long way toward protecting a business’ future. It is the duty of a CIO or IT manager to make sure that the C-Suite understands the importance of planning for disaster recovery.