Written by Byron Atcheson
As defined by Webster, preparedness is the state of readiness and the actions that need to be taken in the event of a disaster.
Would you decide to drive across the country for a family vacation without knowing where you wanted to spend it? Would you go without knowing how to get there, how much money to bring, where to stop and eat, or what type clothing you should pack? Probably not. Most people would start with a simple plan – maybe just the destination and when to go. The details on how you would make the trip happen would then be the meat of the plan, where you cover what to pack and what to do once you get there. Or you could be like me and most other guys and leave the planning up to your spouse and be happy with whatever they decide is best for the family.
If you take that framework for planning and apply it to disasters instead of vacations, you will find most people don’t think about what they should do. What happens if you are suddenly removed from your place of residence or you have to hunker down for an extended period of time? What would you do? How would you ensure survival? One phrase: Preparedness Planning.
As we have seen from the latest hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and fires, catastrophic events can and do happen with little warning, and they can alter even the best of plans. But, with proper planning, we can at least give ourselves a fighting chance. This is not about being one of those so-called “Preppers,” and it’s not about “Pride.” Pride evaporates quickly when your safety is in danger. How do you assure your family that everything will be okay? The first step is to get your family on the same page and “Prepare to plan.” Prepare for the unexpected, plan for the worst, and have a clear idea of the steps you would take in a worst-case scenario.
Written by Tony Klinger
Resiliency is the ability to have your systems readily available, always available, or able to be maintained through an instant failover. Continuity is the ability to have data integrity and to protect your data from corruption. Resiliency gives you fast recovery/failover like driving a fast Ferrari, whereas the strength of continuity and reliable data protection will be there when you need it, like the city bus. With this understanding, let’s talk about Office 365.
A large majority of businesses are choosing to transfer their email exchange deployments to Office 365. This is a great strategy used to simplify email management. Running email in the cloud is an easy way to reduce hardware in the data center while also increasing email availability. Many O365 customers believe that their emails are protected due to the fact that they are in the cloud and that O365 is protected across multiple Azure Regions (areas of the country East/West). The bigger concern is that they are only protected at a Resiliency level. O365 does absolutely nothing for continuity. In order to truly protect the O365 environment the customer must do Continuity protect of the emails. There are multiple products on the market that can do this and provide complete data protection.
Statistically, email infiltration is the most common security threat to date and is becoming even more of an issue due to lack of updated security infrastructure and human error. Social engineering and convincing email formatting can fool even the best of us into downloading malware onto our devices. Such infiltration of email data can slow or even bring organizational operations to a halt.
Don’t let the lack of continuity in Office 365 lead to an email recovery disaster.
Written by Jessica Thompson
Relationships are paramount to the human experience. Most of us recognize our relationships with our spouse, parents, kids, and friends. Do you ever include your professional relationships in that list? More importantly, are you grateful for those relationships? For the purposes of this blog, I define a professional relationship as one with an individual that you collaborate with on a regular basis (one could extend this to clients and other far reaching members of their network, but we will keep a short leash on it here). These are the people you spend 40+ hours a week with. That’s 160+ per month and 1,500+ per year. Given that there are only 8,424 hours in a year, THAT’S A HUGE CHUNK OF YOUR TIME!
Many of us simply assume that these professional relationships mean nothing in our overall lives, but these people can affect how we feel and how we interact with others. Think about it. Someone at work is having a bad day, has a bad attitude, or is a little lazy, leaving you to pick up the slack. You’re hurt/angry/frustrated by the way they have treated you. Then, you probably go home and do one of two things: 1) You vent to your loved ones about what happened, and maybe you even raise your voice -or- 2) You hold that vent session in and, instead, walk around stewing and emitting negative energy that your family feels coming off you. Now that one person has unknowingly affected your whole family! Crazy, right?
Since my time at Corus360/RES-Q™ Services, I have been the happiest I have ever been in my professional life. I love what I do, and I love the people I work with. My team values our professional relationships, and I am truly grateful to be here. I hope that everyone will take the time to understand how they affect others and work to change their energy to promote compassion when needed. Understanding that we are all connected, whether we like it or not, and that we have the ability to alter someone’s day, week, or even their life is imperative to creating a happy and healthy work environment. Remember, these are the people that we spend a huge chunk of our lives with. Smile often, laugh a little more, take the things you can’t control with a grain of salt, and don’t forget to be GRATEFUL.
Written by Delores Shoemaker
Being prepared for an unplanned event disrupting your organization means preparing for the unexpected. Natural disasters, hardware failures, and malicious malware attacks are inevitable. It could very well happen to your organization. A sound strategy allows for a quick response time and includes a having a solution in place for your data, systems, and people. Without it, many businesses find themselves unable to recover, closing their doors for good and leaving employees, customers, and vendors out in the cold. With many years in the DR industry, I still find many organizations that are not prepared and without the means to recover.
Lesson 1: You need a plan.
Not having a plan for recovery is like traveling from New York to Florida without having directions, a map, or street signs to follow. You need to know the how, what, why, and where. Too many organizations do not have a plan, and are just relying on their IT staff to know what to do, which typically results in a partial or failed recovery impacting operations and revenue. Don’t fall into this trap.
Best practices include taking the following steps:
- Conduct a Business Impact Analysis and a Risk Assessment (the why) to identify financial impact, potential risks, critical systems, your recovery time objectives (RTOs/how long can your systems be down), and recovery point objectives (RPOs/how much data loss can be tolerated).
- Develop a comprehensive IT Disaster Recovery Plan (the how, what, and where) detailing the step-by-step recovery process and procedures to follow.
- Write it down, share it, test it and store it in an easily accessible location available to the people in your organization identified in the plan to facilitate your organization’s recovery.
Lesson 2: Test your plan.
Not testing your plan is like knowing you have money in the bank but never checking your ATM card to see if it works. You have money, but can you get to it? What about DR? You may think you have the best plan, and you might be certain that you have covered everything, but until you’ve tested, how do you know for sure? Testing is the dress rehearsal before the real show, providing confirmation of your organization’s ability to recover and identify any crucial gaps in your plan.
Lesson 3: Update your plan.
In the fast-paced, ever-changing world of IT, what you are doing today may not be what you are doing tomorrow. Creating a disaster recovery plan isn’t a one-and-done. Update your plan regularly to stay in step with your current IT environment and business requirements. Another great reason to perform a DR test!
Lesson 4: Keep your subscribed services current.
For most organizations, having a fully-replicated data center for recovery doesn’t make sound business or cost justification sense. In this case many organizations choose to work with a third-party DR provider to support their recovery requirements. With today’s leaner IT staffing and typical corporate projects and implementations, it’s easy to place updating your DR provider system requirements at the bottom of the list as you are making changes to your production environment. If you experience a disaster, the result can be catastrophic if you haven’t been regularly communicating those changes. Staying in touch and communicating with your provider is paramount to your success.
Lesson 5: Choose a partner for your DR goals.
The key to managing a solid DR strategy is choosing a DR provider to work with that treats you as a true partner and not just another customer. Find a DR provider who’s focus is to be by your side every step along the way of your DR journey. Your DR provider-partner should help you develop, implement, and consistently remind you to test your recovery strategy.
Written by Stefanie Beach-Coker
Does it really give you peace of mind, or is it just something we say?
I’ve been in the DRBC industry for more than a decade now. I am still very passionate about this line of business and take DR and DR testing very seriously. I also think that some of the comments we make to our customers roll off our tongues without much critical thought. We’ve witnessed and mitigated many hurricane threats in my tenure at Corus360/RES-Q™ Services, all of which our team has been all hands-on deck at the first sign of a storm headed to the US. What this means to our customers is that we are already pulling their configuration/SLA information before a storm has approached the proximity of their facility.
Part of what we provide to our customers is ongoing updates and notifications on the actual storm along with updating specific requirements they may need they have to put RES-Q™ Services on alert or declare a disaster. Year after year we send the information out during storm season, but the threat of Hurricane Florence seemed to make us all stop and think. She was a very large and unpredictable storm that was slated to impact different areas of the Carolinas. Maybe it was due to the area (I am a resident of NC with many customers close by) or the number of customers that needed to be contacted in preparation for Florence’s landfall.
Additionally, this storm made me really pay attention to the things I wrote and said instead of just letting words “roll off my tongue”. Whatever the reason was, I was very in tune to the urgency and consistency of the information we were sending out to our customers.
Apparently, I wasn’t the only one taking this event seriously. For the first time, I heard back from EVERY customer I personally reached out to. It was enlightening to hear the responses and reactions. The customers that perform regular DR testing or had already developed their recovery solution to a more resilient state were elated to hear the warnings early on and responded back with a “Thank you!” and for us to all be safe as well. The customers, that for whatever reason hadn’t reached that point, had a totally different response to my notifications.
At times, during the build up to Florence and anticipating where she was really going to be an impact, I felt like somewhere in a state of panic and disbelief that it may actually happen to them. It’s a very scary time when a storm is approaching, and our main concern should be able to be with our families and prepare our homes. Now when I say to a prospect or a customer that DR testing will give you peace of mind or make you sleep better at night, it no longer “just rolls off my tongue”.
The words are no longer a sales pitch but a genuine testament to what I’ve witnessed: services that do what we want them to do – give us peace of mind. This is why DR testing matters. Precedent and personal understanding about our customers have led to deeper conversation and better business continuity and DR planning for our customers across the board.
Written by George Liscinsky
In my eyes, the following statement remains extremely profound: The only thing that will be more difficult than planning for a Disaster will be explaining why you DIDN’T!
Without enough proper planning, your brand reputation will take a huge hit if your business process is disrupted. If your services suddenly become unavailable or you are unable to communicate with your customers and partners, your brand will ultimately suffer.
Planning for the unknown is unquestionably a difficult task. The unpredictability of natural disasters, hardware failures, and terrorist events coupled with the unavoidable factor of human error means that the reality is this: data loss is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when.
Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Planning must be an integral part of an organization’s risk management efforts. During the 30+ years that I have been involved in this industry, I have seen many companies take a hit to their bottom line or, in some cases, become damaged so badly that they were never able to recover.
Take the time to get ahead of this issue. Keep your recovery plans up-to-date and confirm that your supply chain meets your organization’s standards. It’s also crucial to remember that exercises are an enormously important part of this process. With disaster recovery plans in place, you will be able stay ahead of auditors and avoid any potential criticisms. However, without proper planning and exercising, the result of an actual disruptive event is usually chaotic.
Listen to Nike and Just Do It!