Education and a good BCP key to disaster recovery success

Three CIOs share their insights

Educating staff and having a good business continuity plan (BCP) is vital if IT managers are to recover from the consequences of a natural disaster, according to ICT leaders.

Speaking to Computerworld Australia, Xtralis CIO, Simarjit Chhabra said disaster recovery should be a top-of-mind issue for IT managers following the recent earthquake in New Zealand.

“We need to educate businesses on the challenges of disasters," Chhabra said. "Be it a forest fire raging towards our data centre or flood waters coming through our front door, we need to ask ourselves, ‘can we live in today’s world without it?’.”

Dematic CIO, Allan Davies, said the extent of the damage in New Zealand had brought back memories of managing the consequences of the magnitude 5.6 earthquake that hit Newcastle in 1989.

"I thought I had developed a well established disaster recovery plan (DRP) that catered for a disaster at the head office data centre but the plan did not consider a catastrophic event at a [retail outlet]," he said.

“Luckily our DRP had catered for constant backup of data from the [chain stores] so when we re-established the store in a few weeks, we were also able to restore the server to the point of failure.”

CIO of DealsDirect, Mark Cohen, said his organisation's planning enabled the company to transform its workforce into a mobile one if a disaster were to strike its headquarters.

“Make sure your recovery plans are known to a flagged recovery team as a whole, and make sure they know who to contact from each business unit as needed," he said.

“We maintain a fleet of mobile broadband modems and mobile phones allocated to staff across various functions, and we have a significant number of staff equipped with laptops. In the event of a disaster the management team and many of the staff are equipped and able to work from home."

Cohen is not alone with recent statistics from Gartner indicating that by the end of 2015, one-third of work-at-home programs will be verified and ‘tuned’ for business continuity management (BCM) readiness.

While these CIOs have learnt from past mistakes and have a number of procedures in place if a disaster hits their businesses, new predictions show that by the end of 2012, less than 10 per cent of organisations will have received external certification for their BCM and IT disaster recovery programs.

For more information on how to earthquake-proof your business, see Computerworld Australia's guide see Computerworld Australia's guide.

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Tags DealsDirectdisaster recoveryXtralisDematicBusiness Continuity Management

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