It’s spring again! A time of year when the skies are sunny and we’re all outside enjoying the warmer weather. Except, of course, when the skies aren’t so sunny and the warm weather from the south has collided with a cold front coming down from the north and created a swirling mass that has us all running for cover. In Oklahoma, where I live, this can happen frequently.
Almost anywhere you live in the U.S., spring weather has its good side and its bad side. In our area, it’s tornadoes, but for other regions of the country, flooding is a real problem. (Although, this year, flooding has been a real problem in Oklahoma, too.) While hurricane season doesn’t officially start until June, you can bet business leaders on the East Coast are already eyeing the predictions.
That’s why this seems to me like a good time to talk about Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity.
How Prepared Are Businesses for Spring Weather?
Unfortunately, the answer is: Not very. Forrester Research and the Disaster Recovery Journal released their 2017 State of Disaster Recovery Preparedness report in February of this year. Almost half (46%) of respondents said they didn’t have an enterprise-wide, formal Disaster Recovery program. As high as that percentage is, it could be worse.
A deeper problem becomes apparent when respondents are asked to rate their preparedness for disaster. Only 18% said they were “very prepared.” If I were the head of one of those enterprise-wide, unified Disaster Recovery programs, that might make me lose a little sleep.
Turning Your Disaster Recovery Program Around
As I read through the Forrester-Disaster Recovery Journal report, it became apparent that many Disaster Recovery plans may not have the organizational support they need. So today, I’m going to take the discussion up a notch and look at some of the underlying prerequisites for an effective program.
#1 Assign responsibility and accountability. We already mentioned that 54% of the respondents had a formal, enterprise-wide program. Beyond that, another 21% said they had “silos of DR planning.” Having clear accountability is a key ingredient for any successful business initiative that requires company-wide support, and that is certainly true of Disaster Recovery.
#2 Gain executive support. While a direct reporting function into executive management isn’t strictly necessary, it can be helpful. In the report, disaster recovery reported into a C-level or equivalent department head only 45% of the time. 38% of the time, the reporting relationship was two or more levels below C-level. The further removed the function is, the less scrutiny—and support—it is likely to receive.
#3 Know your vulnerabilities. We’ve touched on the Business Impact Analysis and Risk Assessment from time to time when we’ve written about topics like the cost of downtime. But, according to the data, 77% of businesses update this important document at most once a year. Of this group, 23% update it less than every two years – which I strongly suspect translates into “we don’t have one.” If you don’t know your weaknesses, how can you create a plan to address them?
Should You Move Your Data Center This Spring?
I want to close by addressing one of the questions I often get asked by business leaders in this region: Should we move our data center out of Tornado Alley?
Not necessarily. In fact, I recently did an interview with Tulsa World about our data centers in Oklahoma. The commercial data center we opened in Oklahoma City is the largest one in the state. You can access that interview here.
However, if you have a data center in this area, your Disaster Recovery planning takes on a different level of significance than for someone in a “safer” area of the country. Disaster Recovery as a Service is one of the key services we offer, so my colleagues and I provide advice in our blog quite frequently. Here are some good “nuts and bolts” posts that can help you strengthen your DR plan:
And, if you’re concerned or simply want to talk through your plan, reach out to us. One of our advisors would be happy to do a quick whiteboard session to help you ensure you’re prepared.
Russ Koch is Regional Vice President at TierPoint, where he leads business development efforts in Oklahoma. Russ' 13+ years of experience at TierPoint (previously Perimeter Technology) and his in-depth knowledge of the data center industry has proven invaluable to his team and local client base.