Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery used to be IT’s responsibility.
Today, Cayman companies are subject to economic and legal jeopardy resulting from critical system failures. Significant system outages can lead to loss of revenue, lawsuits and fines. As a result, businesses throughout the hurricane belt are scrutinizing continuity plans and service level agreements.
Increasing government regulations and compliance directives are rendering existing disaster recovery procedures inadequate. The following tips will help in evaluating where your company stands, and suggest steps to strengthen your BC and DR processes.

Good housekeeping
Calculate the business cost of downtime for critical systems. Understand your risk exposure to potential losses due to system downtime. Knowing the real cost of downtime is important in evaluating disaster recovery solutions. Organisations should assess both operational and financial exposures.
Protect critical networks, systems and applications. Inventory critical equipment and applications, and assess any vulnerability. Determine the best location for these services to help reduce catastrophic outages and ensure rapid recovery response time. Alternatives range from physical relocation to outsourcing.
Build redundancy to support critical operations. A combination of diverse network routing and remote duplication of business-critical applications is essential. Network-based services enable quick switches from a disabled location to alternative sites. Evaluate your infrastructure to determine whether any single point of failure exists.
Keep your documentation up to date. Often companies fail to update documentation after changes have been made. Best-in-class companies have IT resources dedicated to the process and someone in the business unit who’s responsible for Business Continuity.

Business continuity
Plan in advance. Anticipate potential problems and have a comprehensive plan. Communicate the plan throughout the organization so that everyone knows how to respond in the event of a disaster.
Locate failover sites intelligently. It makes little sense to locate backup systems where they may be hit by a storm. Critical operations should automatically failover to systems in facilities with near zero exposure to hurricanes.
Analyze all affected components. Recovering data and systems efficiently is important. It’s equally crucial to get essential work functions up and running without delay. Identify alternate work locations in the event a primary office is unusable. These end-user locations must be equipped with technology and business resources, ranging from computers and phones to desks and chairs.
Disaster recovery
Determine priority levels for restoring systems. Effective DR solutions use a tiered structure, restoring systems according to their level of importance. Executive management and business stakeholders should identify critical systems and determine their order of importance.
Ensure your disaster recovery vendors can deliver. BC and DR plans designed for businesses in London or New York may not be appropriate for Cayman companies. Make sure that your SLA requirements are in line with both your business and technology needs.
Review, test and refresh. A business continuity plan is a living document and a critical business asset. Routinely update and test your BC and DR plans.