Keeping Good Habits For Disaster Preparedness
It can be said that the first half of the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season has been largely uneventful. Yet, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was still predicting 13-16 named storms this season. Citing warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures in key areas of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea and the El Niño/La Niña cycle, NOAA expects storms to continue to form over the tropical region of the Atlantic Ocean through September, increasing the chance that the storms will move westward towards the coastal U.S. as they strengthen.
Faced with the increased likelihood of destructive storms making landfall, many state and local government officials may be asking what they can do to keep their cities and states functioning during a major business disruption such as a hurricane. A well-managed disaster preparedness plan can help prevent costly downtime and reduce inconvenience to citizens. CDW Government Inc. (CDW-G) advises state and local government officials to adopt the following top seven habits of highly resilient organizations to best prepare their information technology systems for a hurricane:
* Assess your current plan. Conduct a business impact assessment that prioritizes critical processes for the entire organization. For example, processes that need to resume within 24 hours to prevent serious mission impact, such as citizen service delivery, could receive an “A” rating.
* Take steps to protect data. Organizations should back up data frequently to ensure that data integrity and applications are not jeopardized. Organizations should also store multiple copies of data off site, at a remote location, a long distance from the primary data center.
* Review power options. Organizations should add uninterrupted power supplies (UPS) to keep the most essential applications running. In addition, cooling systems should be supported by backup generators. Temperature spikes can cause unplanned interruptions when operations are most critical.
* Identify and appoint a cross-functional preparedness team. Create a team to design and test the disaster recovery plan, as well as a recovery team, which will participate in recovery activities after any declared disaster.
* Document, test and update. The disaster preparedness plan should include logistical details, including travel to backup sites, and even who has spending authority for emergency needs. The plan should be tested in an environment that simulates an actual emergency.
* Consider telecommunications alternatives. Following Hurricane Katrina, many organizations lost access to reliable telecommunications equipment for days. Alternative communications vehicles, including wireless phones and satellite phones, should be considered.
* Form tight relationships with vendors. Hardware, software, network and service vendors can help expedite recovery, can often ensure priority replacement of telecommunications equipment, personal computers, servers and network hardware in the event of a disaster