Disaster recovery: Is the message getting through?

News by Steve Gold

Gale force winds are battering Scotland and the North of England - so businesses should invest in disaster recovery solutions.

With winds of up to 100mph sweeping down across Scotland and North of England, disaster recovery specialist Onyx Group – which has five data centres and six workplace recovery centres in these areas of the UK – says that businesses need to prepare for what forecasters predict could be the region's harshest winter in over 60 years.

CEO Neil Stephenson spoke to SCMagazineUK.com today and stressed that it is vital that all businesses have a stringent continuity plan in order to combat the winter threats.

“Every winter we have customers invoking into our Workplace Recovery centres due to their offices becoming damaged or inaccessible. To ensure that businesses keep running during a natural disaster, they need to invest in a workplace recovery model,” he said.

“This ensures back up of all of a company's data off-site across a number of data centres that can be accessed nationwide, and will also provide an alternative, fully-equipped workplace for staff when they can't get to their normal place of work.”

So are corporate clients prepared to invest in this technology?

Stephenson says that the tide is turning. Whereas ten years ago companies were unaware of their disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (BC) options, he claims that today's managers are fully up to speed on the issue.

“Boards [of companies] are now looking at the issue, as they realise they have a duty as a director to ensure their business remains operational come what may,” he said, adding that the trend towards 24x7 working in many companies means that investment in DR/BC plans has turned into a must-have option.

Interestingly, the Onyx CEO says that most clients are a lot less price sensitive about their DR/BC options than you might expect, largely because their first question when being offered a solution is `does it work?'

Over at First Base Technologies – a pen testing security specialist – chief executive officer Peter Wood says that he has seen interest in DR/BC solutions ramping up, especially in the financial services business. Smaller businesses, however, are said to be prepared than larger counterparts.

“I was speaking at an event a few weeks ago - to a group of Lloyd's underwriters – and it became apparent that only a minority of them had plans in place, but more importantly, hardly any of them had actually tested their plans,” he said.

“My observations are that, no matter if a business has a disaster recovery plan in place, no matter what they say, they rarely actually put that plan – and systems – under test. This is not a good situation to be in, as when something happens, they are working in the unknown,” he added.

Wood – who is also a veteran security professional in ISACA, the not-for-profit IT security association - told SCMagazineUK.com that his own company's DR/BC plans were put to the test back in 2004 when the firm's offices had a fire one Sunday, but the IT systems and back-up plans cut over perfectly. “The only damage was to my wallet,” he joked.

Fellow ISACA professional Sarb Sembhi – an analyst and director with business and research house Incoming Thought Limited – says that corporates are lot more up to speed on the DR/BC issue than they used to be.

And, he said, their plans are also a lot more advanced than they were just a few years back.

Despite this, Sembhi added that there is a potential spanner in the works in the shape of the trend towards work-at-home options and the rising bring-your-own-device (BYOD) usage in the field.

“In this situation, it's not just a question of ensuring that you have effective IT back-up plans in the office, you also have to have these facilities in place at the worker's home, including back-up heating and electrical options,” he said.

“It's fine to have a computer and allied systems working on batteries in the employee's home, but if their heating also goes down - and the temperature drops to 10 degrees C - it's impossible to carry on working.”

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