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Panic or profits?

14 February 2011  |  3594 views  |  1

Business Continuity Planning (BCP) is at the forefront of company’s minds and is more pertinent when there is a threat to businesses or general public. One year ago, the H1N1 ‘swine flu’ pandemic forced businesses to re-evaluate their plans for managing the impact of a widespread outbreak of the virus on their organisation. But while threats like this are serious, and awareness is high, the implementation of comprehensive BCP strategies is patchy at best. A coherent BCP strategy is more than just an additional cost; it can add real value to the business which is why it is important to spend time with customers and discuss how to mitigate risk for any type of pandemic or disaster that may occur.

 

Of course the risk of a flu pandemic doesn’t reduce other existing dangers. To protect your business successfully against the threat of natural disasters and terrorism, careful planning and intelligent investment is required. Many businesses share disaster recovery sites and consider taking a staggered approach to relocation. They have identified the most valuable 20% of the workforce and invested in a continuity plan to ensure that these employees can relocate and continue working with little or no disruption to their activities. The second phase of their business continuity plan kicks in over the following two to three months, as their BCP partner expands these facilities to enable the entire workforce to be housed in a new work location.

 

Location is indeed a key parameter. In the past, institutions have invested in back up offices within close proximity to their existing workplace. But when disruption occurs there’s the danger that security perimeters will also block entry to the new site. A site close to as many reliable transport connections as possible is essential. This is especially critical in the early days after a crisis when employees need to relocate and may be disorientated and anxious.

 

Finally, it’s worth noting that technology is keeping pace with the latest thinking in business continuity planning. Distributed and cloud computing enable organisations to replace a single point of failure with systems that provide guaranteed failover. Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) replaces monolithic infrastructures with closely integrated but independent systems. In addition, communications protocols such as MultiProtocol Label Switching (MPLS) combined with the facilities brought by session initiation protocol (SIP) makes it easy to create "virtual links" between different trading sites so that calls can be rerouted quickly to another office if necessary.

 

Put simply, all these technologies mark a decisive shift in the role of business continuity planning. They offer outstanding resilience, but they also provide employees with the platform and tools to work more flexibly and efficiently. With intelligent investment and careful planning, institutions can kill two birds with one stone by addressing the imminent threat to their business and putting in place an IT and communications infrastructure for growth. 

 

 

Thierry Charvet,
Head of Marketing & Strategy, Orange Trading Solutions

 

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Comments: (1)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 16 February, 2011, 11:15

A few years ago, the datacenter of a leading bank located in West England was hit by flash floods, I asked their IT Director what their BCP was. With a twinkle in his eye, he replied, "mops and buckets"! 

Although cited in a lighter vein, the above example highlights one critical challenge posed by most prevailing BCP/DRP technologies, namely, the extremely high cost of network bandwidth required to keep the data between the primary and secondary sites in synch with each other in realtime. The telecom provider in this instance was simply unable to provide the required bandwidth within the required timescales, which meant the bank had to settle for a few hours of phase lag between the two sites.

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