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Volume 30, Issue 1

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Driving Resiliency Through Operational Risk Management

I recently had the pleasure of presenting with a panel of RSA Archer customers on the topic of “Building Resiliency Across the Value Chain" for a Disaster Recovery Journal webinar.  

Two key questions were posed to the 80 attendees. The first question was: “Where is your organization on the business resilience scale?”  The responses were:

 

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The price of Cloud Backup and DRaaS

Cloud computing is hardly a new player of the IT world. Its ever-growing market share and popularity within the IT community derives from combining flexible prices with the Always-On Availability of infrastructure resources. It brings out a whole new world of possibilities for your business, while reducing the long-term costs of maintaining your own infrastructure. Yet, despite the obvious cost advantages of moving data to the cloud, pricing is still a top concern, as Veeam discovered from our recent 2016 cloud end-user survey (see chart below).

Are cloud backup and DRaaS affordable?

The answer depends on many factors. A change of mindset is required when thinking about the affordability of cloud-based backup and disaster recovery (DR). Depending on your individual business requirements, cloud backups or even a full Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) solution can be very affordable, especially considering the money saved in the event of a disaster. The general rule is the lower the recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) your business requires, the higher the potential cost.

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Communicating When Disaster Strikes - Tips for Preparedness

One of the first things people do when disaster strikes is start communicating. Someone calls 911. Emergency response groups learn and relay important facts about the incident. And people speculate about what happened, why it happened, and what will happen now.

As a business, it is vital to be ready to respond when disasters occur. In order to keep gossip to a minimum and maintain a positive reputation, clear communication about the incident must occur in a timely fashion. This can be hard to do when there is concern over the well being of employees or pressure to provide an explanation about who is responsible. Adding to this stress is that all of the facts may not be known right away, yet communications still need to be sent.

So how does a business take steps to ensure clear, timely communications occur under all of that pressure? This post provides you with a few tips to help you (and your business) communicate effectively in the aftermath of a disaster.

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BUSINESS IMPACT ANALYSIS RELIEVES “TEMPEST IN A TEAPOT” SYNDROME

BUSINESS IMPACT ANALYSIS RELIEVES “TEMPEST IN A TEAPOT” SYNDROME

Do you ever use the term, ‘you are creating a tempest in a teapot’? It means, don’t make a big deal out of something that isn’t. Doing a little research, I found other similar phrases I thought were entertaining. They are:

• A storm in a teacup’ – Cicero; or ‘Billows in a ladle’ – translation of Cicero’s writings
• A storm in a glass of water’ – Netherland
• Tempest in a potty’ – Hungary
• A storm in a wash-hand basin’, or ‘A storm in a cream bowl’ – England

Of course my seven year old loved the ‘tempest in a potty’. Anyway, something these phrases all have in common is “business impact analysis”. Surprised? Let me explain.

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No Building, No People, No Systems, No Suppliers

We get asked a lot of questions about how any one company can possibly plan for all of the different incidents they could experience.  It’s a good question.  There are many variations of complexity to incidents that can make the task of planning for them all feel overwhelming.  Fires start small, and can grow and spread.  Tornadoes might cause minor damage to the warehouse, or take out the entire structure.  One employee gets sick with the flu, and suddenly a third of the workforce is unable to come to work.  

While discussing this problem with a friend of KingsBridge BCP recently, they had the perfect example to illustrate this point.  This person works for a natural gas company, and their story goes like this:

There was a bad thunderstorm happening in an urban area adjacent to an electrical tower.  Lightning from the storm struck the tower.  The good news is that the tower had a ground wire. The bad news is that the ground wire ran down into the ground next to the end of a metal corrugated sewer pipe.  The surge from the lightning strike ran down into the ground wire and hit the sewer pipe. It was conducted along the length of the sewer pipe until it hit a natural gas pipeline at the other end.  This caused a minor explosion that set off a chain reaction to all of the natural gas feeds into the homes and businesses in the nearby vicinity.

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New Age Resiliency

 The age of manual disaster recovery is rapidly reaching end of life.  The need for an ‘Always on’ business that leverages enhanced technologies is driving traditional recovery programs to seek improved, cost effective alternatives.  Speed, accuracy, and consistency quickly become the predominate principles for effective resiliency programs.

Many factors are driving the need for taking the next step towards transforming resiliency programs to enable a more software defined, orchestrated approach to keeping a business up and running. These include:

  • Corporate demands for less downtime, evidenced by the growing number of real time, online systems that demand a 24x7x365 end user experience to drive expected results
  • Increased mandates for external compliance and internal audit to demonstrate continuous availability and a near instant response to an outage
  • Threats from cyber activity that require immediate action to identify and re-mediate the concern and resume processing with minimal business interruption
  • Continuous monitoring and confirmation of the resiliency program which increases confidence that should an event occur, the business is ready to respond
  • Increased recovery capacities to manage the tremendous upsurge in data growth and hybrid IT progression is driving the need for more significant resiliency designs to protect information and develop a more expeditious means to bring it back online in the event of an interruption
  • The challenge to validate recovery given the increase in size and complexity of the environment and the inherent risks associated with demonstrating full business functionality without impacting production 

Addressing these factors has become a huge challenge, especially when using traditional methods for validation of the program, responding to a live event, and ultimately demonstrating complete business resumption.  Recent technology developments in the area of automation and orchestration not only address these needs, but more specifically provide the road map for the next generation of business resiliency. 

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Have You Automated Your Emergency Notifications? How This One Step Can Save Lives

Have You Automated Your Emergency Notifications? How This One Step Can Save Lives

Emergencies Aren’t The Time to Plan

We don’t often think of emergency response until there is an actual emergency which is the absolute worst time to figure it out. When you’re in a crisis, you and your co-workers are less likely to think as clearly as when you aren’t. An emergency “plan” is just that, a plan. It’s your guide to getting you and your employees out of harm’s way and keep the business up and running as best as possible. The more steps you can remove from the process through automation, the better off everyone will be.

While many organizations say they have an emergency procedure  in place, there are a few problems with many plans:

1. The plan isn’t really a plan. It’s more of an idea. “If we have to evacuate, we’ll just go into the parking lot.” That’s not a well-conceived plan. An appropriate plan must be well thought out, rehearsed, and include all of the most likely scenarios, plus the flexibility to extrapolate the procedure to unexpected events. This “all-hazards” plan requires more than one person to develop, in fact, a committee of in-house and remote stakeholders who can work together to come up with a comprehensive strategy and agree on the technologies that will make it happen.

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5 Clichés About Business Continuity Management You Should Avoid

Business Continuity Management has tremendously evolved since it originated in the 70’s but some common clichés are still lurking in the shadows. Avoid these 5 mistakes to create a successful business continuity management program that is objective, consistent & repeatable.

 

1. Every business continuity program is the same

Don’t fall into the trap of one size fi­ts all or “This is how we did it at my last company so let’s go!”  Is it possible that all the factors that went into the success you had with your last employer will come together at this organization? Sure, why not! Should you bank your career on that happening? Hmmm, maybe not. Each organization has its own unique ‘best fit’ framework for a sustainable resilience program. 

Define business continuity/organizational resilience as it relates to your organization or industry. Every organization has unique needs & priorities that vary based on industry, geographic location & resources.

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Top 20 Data Center Mistakes

Data center migrations aren’t a regular thing for most employees. Depending on the kinds of companies you work for and roles you hold, you might participate in a handful of major migrations over the course of a career. Before starting a data center migration, you need to figure out where you are going, what’s going there, and how to get it there.

These are some common pitfalls to avoid, mistakes others have made, tips to keep in mind, and otherwise general do’s and don’ts of data center migration (20 of them)...

Read more: http://www.device42.com/blog/2017/01/top-20-data-center-migration-mistakes/

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New Year's Resolutions

We are just a few days away from 2017, wondering what it will bring.  Everyone is deciding what their New Year's resolutions will be.  What will you do differently in your personal life?  And what changes are you going to make in your business and professional life?  This is the perfect time to reflect on what went well for your company this past year; and what was less than perfect. It is also the prime time to do some planning and preparation.

Incidents have a global impact.

One only needs to look back on 2016 to remember how many natural disasters occurred.  This was one of the deadliest Atlantic hurricane seasons since 2005, spanning all the way from mid-January to the end of November.  Out of 1,766 deaths this season, 1,659 were attributed to Hurricane Matthew alone.  There were also massive earthquakes in Ecuador, Italy and the Solomon Islands, and rampant wildfires in the Southeastern United States.  At first blush when these incidents are looked at separately, the impact might not be considered all that high.  However when you really think about the global impact of incidents like earthquakes, sudden flooding, snowstorms, power outages, fires, and hurricanes, you quickly realize how these seemingly isolated incidents resulted in real impacts on your bottom line.

The New Year is the time to start.

I suggest you take this week to get ready for the year ahead. Do a threat risk assessment.  Really look at the results of this process and consider how these threats will impact your business and bottom-line.  Next, take action.  Work with a proven leader in the industry to put together a business continuity plan. When done effectively, the creation and implementation of this plan doesn't have a big impact on the day-to-day operations of your business.  Ultimately you will have the peace of mind that your company and its assets are protected in the event of disaster.

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7 Steps to BIGLY build a business continuity management program

Effectively fulfilling your role as a business continuity executive means not only understanding your organization’s ability to remain resilience in the face of any disruptive event or disaster, but also proactively contributing, sanctioning and enforcing an effective business continuity program.  I put together a short outline of steps you should take as you build your business continuity management program.


1. Create your own unique ‘best fit’ framework for a sustainable resilience, continuity and disaster recovery program

The critical considerations of this framework include:

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3 Ways Your BCP Can Help You During The Holidays

Demonstrating return on investment is one of the main barriers to launching a new Business Continuity Plan (BCP) project. Many organizations have difficulty justifying the expense of building a BCP and funding it’s maintenance over time. A healthy organization that has never experienced an interruption may focus on the real possibility of a zero ROI. If an organization is able to dodge the proverbial bullet, it’s true, the project may never yield much return. However, even in the case of extreme luck, there are three distinct ways that a BCP helps you with non-emergency operations in your organization.

1 – Holiday Closures

With the holiday season upon us, business closures can be a difficult puzzle to solve. Whether in the manufacturing or service sector, it can be tough to determine how to shutdown and restart the business. Add in the need to share these impacts both inside and outside of the organization and this task can seem enormous. Thankfully, a solid BCP will give you the information you need to make this happen. The BCP tells you which critical processes need the most attention; it includes instructions for internal and external communications; and it lists all critical vendors, suppliers and customers that may need special attention. The BCP acts as a manual of steps for a short term holiday closure. The New Year will ring in the return to operations-as-usual.

One important item to note is that using the BCP in such closures serves as a plan exercise. This will help identify any pitfalls in the plan and inform the next iteration. Exercises ensure your plan becomes an even more robust and useful resource.

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Control in the Chaos

Emergency Management Market Skyrockets

When we heard the report based on new market research that the incident and emergency management market is projected to reach $114 billion by 2021, we weren’t surprised. But what people may not realize is why the market is exploding. The report notes the growth is due to “changing climatic conditions, increasing government regulations and norms, extensive usage of social media to spread information, and increased threats of terrorist attacks.”

Pretty sobering. Every one of those key drivers are out of our immediate control. We don’t like to feel out of control. In fact, the feeling of being out of control is a leading cause of anxiety and depression. It can lead us to act irrationally or at the very least, make us irritable. The truth is, we feel safe when we are in control.

An interesting study found climate change ranks among the top 20 greatest fears of U.S. adults and nearly 40 percent of people have anxiety about terrorism. These are serious numbers. So what can a company do to alleviate some of these fears?

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Mass Text Software Becoming Standard Protocol for Emergency Notifications

Key Drivers

I recently saw an article from Campus Safety magazine that discussed how college campuses are attempting to maximize the ROI of their alert systems. This isn’t a surprise, as it has become mandatory for schools to have some sort of mass communication system in place for emergencies. Sadly, school campuses from elementary through college have lost their sense of security after so many stories of campus violence. We’ve all mourned the tragedies of Sandy Hook, Columbine, and Virginia Tech. There have been 142 school shootings in the U.S. since 2013 and nearly every state has been affected.

On top of everything schools have to contend with each year , these horrific crimes have quickly placed campus security at the top of the priority list. The mass notification system market is responding and is expected to grow to nearly 10 billion USD by 2021, due in part to the growing demand for public safety and increased awareness for emergency communication solutions.

Squeezing Out ROI from Pinched Budgets

The drive to eke out as much ROI as possible from these communication tools is understandable given the strained resources of many schools. The article reminds us that email was the mainstay for all electronic communications prior to the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting. Our culture has evolved significantly since then, thanks to millennials who have set the standard for instant, real-time communications. While email still may have its place, it isn’t considered fast or reliable enough for emergency notifications.

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Lessons Learned from Matthew's Aftermath

Hurricane Matthew, a category 5 hurricane that disrupted life along the Western Atlantic for nearly two weeks last month, is an unwelcome reminder of the importance of business continuity planning and preparedness. In any disaster, there are many lessons learned for all persons and organizations involved. Here we look to Matthews’ to highlight some lessons we can all take away to enhance business continuity planning for not just hurricanes, but disasters of any kind.

For those who didn’t follow the hurricane, it’s effects were great and widespread. Wind gusts up to 107 mph were measured at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Water levels rose up to eight feet above normal levels as a result of the storm surge. Some areas reported up to 14 inches of rainfall, furthering flood risks and concurrent impacts miles from the coastline.

If directly inside this impact zone, many immediate effects can inhibit your business operations:

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The Worst Advice We've Ever Heard About Incident Communications

Lessons from Ben

Benjamin Franklin was a great man who is known for his quotes and advice. Not only was he a founding father of our nation, but he launched the first library, the first hospital, and the first fire department. Those are but a few of his contributions to our society but even he understood the questionable value of advice from others when he said, “Wise men don’t need advice. Fools won’t take it.”

Advice can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it can be highly beneficial. We often seek advice when we are struggling with a situation or want another perspective. On the other hand, we often detest advice when it’s given without requesting it, particularly when that advice is counter to what we think we know.

Ask 50 people for advice on virtually anything, personal or work-related, and you will likely receive 50 different suggestions. How should you roast a chicken? Just Google that one and see how many different sites pop up. I just did and a whopping 75,800,000 results are possible. “How should a company communicate with its employees?” The chicken just got cooked because nearly double the number of results were offered up. Astonishing.

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Take Advantage of Your Access to Disaster Recovery Journal

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Spring World 2017 Perks

You know the value of continuing your business continuity education. You know the benefits that networking can offer. You know how important it is to meet with and get demos from the leaders in technology, software and services. 

 

You know that there is no place other than DRJ Spring World 2017 where you can easily, efficiently and affordably do this in one location. You know that March 26 - 29, 2017 will have a lasting impact on your career and your company.

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Business Continuity. Resilience. Disaster Recovery

5 ways to be a business continuity ninja

You get it. You’re a business continuity manager.  You are ready for any disaster. You have ninja like reflexes. You can read minds. You own a magical crystal ball. You have the super power of continuity. You anticipate and avert crisis whenever possible.  Of course, this is not always the reality, but you do know how to expect the unexpected.

In too many cases demonstrated by recent history, the worst possible risks tend to be surprises that no one would have suspected as a possibility. Anticipation and foresight can be effective only in situations where we know with high probability the worst risks we face, and we can apply that knowledge to avoid or mitigate negative outcomes. Unfortunately without the help of the super powers and skills set listed above, avoidance and mitigation aren’t always possible. The recent events in NYC, NJ and Minnesota bring to mind the ever increasing need for business continuity and disaster recovery planning. The devastating attacks in Paris, Orlando, New York and across the world are also painful examples of such an unfathomable crisis.


1. Believe it could happen.

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Shaping the Future of Business Continuity

The theme for DRJ Spring World 2017 is: Shaping the Future of Business Continuity. What does this mean? What do you think of when you hear the word future? How can you be involved and make a difference in the future of business continuity?

 

Admittedly, this theme is a big one. It’s also vitally important. All of us are in the business of being ready, of being able to respond and react, of knowing how and what we’ll do in the face of interruption, and of being able to stay calm when faced with chaos. 

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