Monthly Archives: December 2014

4 items for the ultimate holiday continuity wish list

The holiday season is all about spreading joy and spending time with loved ones, but no one denies the fun and excitement of receiving gifts from friends and family members. While business leaders hopefully have their own personal wish lists in the works, they're likely far more vocal about what they want for their organizations – regardless of the season. However, this is the perfect time for executives to define the improvements they'd like to see made across their businesses, especially in regard to their continuity strategies.

Given the growing demand for quick disaster recovery and high availability networks – especially during the traffic-heavy holiday stretch – there are many items in this category that decision-makers are eager to address. Here are five of the most important continuity features that leaders should be wishing for in the next few weeks. 

1. Complete threat assessment: In the digital age, risk is an entirely different animal than in previous eras, and business leaders need all the help they can get when it comes to determining which threats could potentially jeopardize their goals. As the Tennessean recently pointed out, a continuity plan is nothing without a thorough evaluation of the hazards facing an organization, and every executive team needs a roadmap outlining these factors before it sets out on a procurement and implementation journey. 

"Decision-makers want stockings filled with a diversity of disaster recovery and continuity solutions this holiday season."

Among some of the commonly cited dangers noted by the source were natural occurrences such as fire, flood and earthquake, as well as some more overlooked factors including theft, vandalism and HVAC failures that can wreak havoc on tech appliances. To flesh out a continuity wish list in full, identifying these elements and determining their likelihood will be essential first steps. 

2. Diverse recovery assets: Today's IT infrastructures are more complex and varied than ever before – much like the highly customized physical office setups embraced by organizations across sectors. Individuals now work from home regularly, rely on a range of digital tools in the workplace and are always upgrading to the next hardware or software platform. Decision-makers want stockings filled with an equally diverse array of disaster recovery and continuity solutions if they want to stay ahead of this accelerating curve.

For instance, Database Journal noted that with the rise of big data in the corporate environment, backup and restoration assets are being put to the test like never before, requiring many executives to rethink their recovery outlooks in accordance with these developments. While big data may not be considered mission-critical, it's still a key component of a long-term strategy and should be prioritized.

3. Plenty of testing resources: A continuity and recovery plan isn't much use unless it is tested thoroughly and on a frequent basis, yet far too many decision-makers fail to account for this key element of their plan. Executives should make sure that before they enter the holiday fray, their systems are ready to bounce back in case of a crisis scenario. Gauging the capabilities of a restoration plan should range beyond the digital arena as well – TechTarget recommended supplementing tests with notification and alert tools to keep employees involved.

The holiday rush means that businesses have a variety of continuity needs this season.

4. Support from the pros: Even with a revamped blueprint for the holiday season, a business leader's work is never done when it comes to tweaking and improving upon their current continuity plans. That's why guidance from an expert service provider is the icing on the cake for any executive's wish list – 24/7 troubleshooting, optimization and expansion support will be the gift that keeps on giving well into the new year and beyond. 

3 surprising reasons to prioritize business continuity

In the minds of many executive officers, business continuity is a back-burner objective, reduced to a bare-bones strategy that rarely meets the full needs of the organization. As the enterprise environment becomes more heavily reliant on digital assets and high availability to power productivity, the central role of BC is indisputable, regardless of the industry in which a firm may compete.

It’s time for leaders to shed their outdated perceptions of continuity as a bottom-tier strategic element and bump up its prioritization to reflect a new age of business resilience. In order to help decision-makers open their eyes to these pressing needs, here are three lesser-known reasons why BC should be a top priority in every organization.

1. Compliance is tough on continuity: Every tuned-in business leader knows that regulatory systems such as PCI DSS, HIPAA and the mandates of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act have cracked down on procedural standards in operations of all types. Without strong continuity measures that ensure the protection of these processes, these decision-makers run the risk of violating critical regulations and earning themselves a black mark in their industries, as noted by IT Online. Complete backup, archiving and restoration methods are vital for remaining compliant.

“It’s time for leaders to shed their outdated perceptions of continuity.”

2. Employees demand backup too: Today’s workforce is pretty tech-savvy, and staff members will generally figure out a way to leverage the digital tools they need, even if IT departments don’t give them the green light. According to Cloud Pro, a Cloud Cipher study found that 41 percent of employees download SaaS backup tools without the authorization of their superiors, meaning that continuity is top of mind at all levels of the organization. Rather than risking the uncertainty that accompanies these unofficial applications, leaders should build strong BC plans from the ground up.

3. Recovery is only a piece of the puzzle: As a recent Axcient study noted, over 40 percent of organizations back up their vital databases and applications as a disaster recovery measure, but what about all the other components of continuity that tend to get overshadowed by IT? Employees need clear-cut action plans and notifications that keep them in the know during a crisis, as well as dedicated workspaces for in-person collaboration during periods of office inaccessibility. These are the forgotten elements of continuity that need to be brought back to the forefront if companies intend to bounce back from a disaster quickly and completely.

4 signs your disaster recovery is behind the times

In the world of the modern enterprise, falling behind the times is the beginning of the end, especially when it comes to technology. Many competitive advantages these days are made and lost in the IT department, and fast, functional tech services are basically a prerequisite for success in any sector or specialty. From the data center to the end user environment and every step in between, organizations need to optimize performance and stay on the cutting edge of the biggest IT trends. Of course, that includes leveraging a disaster recovery plan in stride with the times that's capable of complete asset restoration.

Unfortunately, DR falls off of many enterprise IT to-do lists when upgrading infrastructure systems, leaving major gaps in the continuity assurance every business needs to survive in the modern era. If you think this describes your organization, it's time to get back on track. Here are four signals that indicate your disaster recovery outlook is out of sync with the latest and greatest tech.

1. Scheduled downtime is a drag: Every organization must work network downtime into their IT maintenance schedules to ensure patches and updates are installed proactively. A sluggish infrastructure reboot following these measured outages, however, can be a bad sign for the functionality of your DR plan. If you can't quickly bounce back from a scheduled downtime event, how can you expect your tech assets to remain resilient and recoverable in a worst-case scenario such as a natural disaster or fatal system error? 

"If you think your DR systems have fallen out of date, it's time to get back on track."

2. Multiple DR tools are a burden: A telltale indicator of a lagging DR strategy is a fragmented array of recovery tools designed to work independently of one another and on different schedules. The more disparate your DR resources are, the greater the likelihood that something will go awry when it comes time to launch your restorative action plan. Consolidate your disconnected systems to mitigate this risk and streamline the recovery process. A Dimensional Research report even found that 59 percent of organizations cite a multitude of solutions as a burden to recovery agility

3. No control over RPOs or RTOs: Relying on a DR plan that lacks recovery point and time objectives is like hunting for buried treasure without the map revealing where the X marks the spot – you may indeed attain your prize, but chances are slim given the many unpredictable forces acting against you. Set a course for recovery success by ensuring your RPOs and RTOs are crystal clear from the outset and that you have total control over these key performance measurements. 

4. IT is all alone in the struggle: When disaster strikes, you need all hands on deck to help you execute your recovery strategy – especially the IT squad. If these key personnel have their hands tied with restorative efforts, however, end user support goes MIA until systems are up and running again. According to Dimensional Research, 41 percent of organizations find their teams stretched thin during a recovery event, leaving all other tech objectives out to dry. Make sure your DR is consolidated for minimal effort on the part of your tech teams to promote smoother operations.