Coronavirus and COVID-19 is forcing BCDR strategy to include epidemiological planning but the tech sector is ready for it thanks to our experience in other events like hurricanes or terrorist events.
For years I’ve stood in front of board rooms full of decision makers selling the benefits of working from home. Flexibility is just as important as scalability. My blog posts frequently discuss the need to focus on flexibility in business continuity and disaster recovery design. A distributed workforce has many benefits to an organization facing rapid change.
Flexibility in VoIP Profiles and SIP trunks makes it easy for a workforce to pivot. Mobile Device Management platforms make it easy to control & secure data flows of sensitive information. Hot Desk sites and colocation facilities provide emergency brick and mortar while remote hands can provide hardware support from a distance and helping to prevent the spread of Coronavirus and COVID-19.
The Disaster Recovery Institute International (DRII) identifies pre-planning, planning, and pre-planning, planning, and post-planning. Readiness and preparedness, activation, continuity operations, and reconstitution would be considered the phases of continuity implementation as stated by the Department of Homeland Security.
You’ll need to:
Determine alternative business operating strategies and set recovery time objectives
Select vendors carefully and off-site storage/recovery sites or War Rooms for operational continuity
Develop response procedures to limit exposure to risk and/or liability
Publish, Implement, and Refresh the plan
Your IT team’s response to COVID-19 should resemble your Hurricane Preparedness plan and follow CDC guidelines for direction on hygiene, quarantine and the like. Data Centers can be self contained facilities able to operate independently much like a bunker for servers or key operations.
Quarantining and sterilizing locations can be a necessity with Coronavirus and COVID-19 and locking down access controls quickly using Active Directory groups can help expedite the process. Sending out messages to users can be done via Mobile Device Management platforms while also managing for Data Loss Prevention which is always a concern for remote work or users with changed habits and stress associated with change.
Setting up Mobile Device Management platforms properly can ease the stress of BCDR implementation. VoIP profiles and SIP trunks can be configured for BCDR scenarios whether via features like direct inward dialing or more complex arrangements like destination not found automatic call redirect. In addition to MDM and VoIP, virtualized workstations or full blown O365 set ups allow for a homogenous experience across user environments (For example, their laptop or iPhone, loved one’s desktop, a Kinkos… yes I said Kinkos).
Continuing operations may require a hot site with varied functionality like the ability to print payroll. Sounds like a one off but from my experience its best to plan for the most unlikely scenario. Most large financial organizations have a war room where the top minds gather to keep the business moving. When that’s not possible collaboration tools like Teams or GoToMeeting bridge the gap providing users a common workspace.
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Tracking performance is still a priority and production should not decrease if a BCDR plan implementation goes smoothly. A post-mortem is a best practice to identify problem areas and address them appropriately. Tracking KPIs are easier than ever with CRMs and when integrated with workflow automation solutions, maintaining normalcy can be as easy as managing a threat with a well designed incident response solution. Okay maybe that was a bit geeky… A better example might be having a good playlist set up for your work out 😉
Your biggest threat has always been an insider, now that’s more true than ever. The threat of pandemic is not transmitted digitally but we can take technological steps to help be better prepared and maintain normalcy in the face of any threat. Your firewall won’t help protect you from Coronavirus and COVID-19 but the proper engineering and administration of your critical systems will keep the business running without an impact on productivity.