Tools and Technology

Are You Ready for the Next Natural Disaster?

Just in time for the peak of hurricane season, it’s National Preparedness Month. Are you ready for the next natural disaster? Do you need to be?
It’s the 11th year the month, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has been in existence. (Don’t feel bad if you forgot – who can keep track?) The basic premise behind the month is an awareness campaign that culminates in a National PrepareAthon Day on Sept. 30.
As points out, “There have certainly been devastating natural events in the last two years in regions of the U.S., but not since Superstorm Sandy in 2012, have there been so many people, places and business affected. Everyone assumed mobile workers would continue to work, but the networks buckled and recovery took much longer than expected.”
Then in the next breath, the site mentions, “In actuality, weather represents only 14% of major outages and data loss, while power failure accounts for 24%, according to a benchmark study from Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council (DRPC). Fifty percent of downtime is because of software or network failure, and 44% [of that] is because of human error.”
The Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council, says its website, “is an independent research organization engaged in IT disaster recovery management, research, and benchmarking.  It has been formed to provide practical guidance to IT and risk management professionals on how they can improve Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery.”
One of the more interesting things it does is help organizations determine how prepared they are for disaster recovery. Through an online survey that takes 10 minutes to complete, it collect metrics and comparisons on behalf of the disaster recovery industry. This IT Disaster Recovery Benchmark allows an organization to participate in a global survey on Disaster Recovery best practices as well as gauge how its results compare to its peer group.
It also includes a report once you finish the questions.
According to the website, “Once you have completed the survey, you will receive a grade (A-F) indicating the level of disaster recovery preparedness your organization has reached. Then, as a benchmark participant, you will receive an email with a report that shows how your responses compare to those of the other participants.” That alone could help you prepare for disaster recovery.
Steve Kahan is the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council’s chairman. He raises the issue of Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) in a blog post on the council’s website. Kahan, who serves as chief marketing officer at Unitrends with a focus on Europe, says is the second highest priority for most organizations but most may not be preparing for it.
“That doesn’t mean you can’t start to develop and/or improve your business continuity strategy today,” Kahan says. “That’s because there are things you can do right now—without incurring any out of pocket expense—to improve your BC/DR planning.”
He suggests first taking the council’s benchmark study (of course). He then says the council’s 2014 annual report should be enough to convince higher-ups to fund disaster recovery.
“This eye-opening report gives you a guide to how others are using best practices for disaster preparedness — and help you make the case with your CEO and finance team for the funding you need both to put a sound DR plan in place and see that staff members are trained for action in case of a threat,” Kahan says.
Among findings from its 2014 annual benchmark study are that 73% of respondent organizations worldwide are not taking adequate steps to protect their data and IT systems. According to participants, poor planning, testing and technological deficiencies have led to more than $5M worth of critical applications failure, data center outages and data loss.

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