• August 31, 2015

Protecting the Enterprise From Disaster: Is Your Organization Prepared?

By Christian Verstraete, Chief Technologist, Cloud, Helion Professional Services, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Outside of cyber terrorism, enterprises face a slew of potential ugly threats that can cause great disruption or take down the infrastructure in one fell swoop: fires, earthquakes, floods, solar flares (which can fry electronics), and human error. Remember what happened to that Amazon.com data center when a welder accidentally set it ablaze?

The portfolio of potential disasters—sabotage, freak storms, and accidents that knock out critical transformers or communications links—is voluminous. And you almost never see them coming.

In the past, disaster-recovery strategies meant expensive backup systems and duplicate data centers at distant locations, systems that were largely unused 95 percent of the time. But there’s a different way.

Cloud to Recovery

Cloud-based disaster-recovery options make disaster-recovery plans far less complicated and considerably more efficient. They can be cost-effective alternatives to traditional backup and replication strategies while offering greater geographic data center diversity. These options also offer the flexibility of storing existing servers, applications, operating systems, patches, and data virtually in the cloud.

Enterprises must also safeguard their communications and connectivity. It’s imperative that leaders avoid the tendency to overemphasize IT resilience at the expense of telephony. Backup battery systems, spare circuit boards, and extra telephone equipment may not be enough. Further, internet-based VoIP systems may fail if the disaster knocks out networks.

Instead, enterprises may be wise to explore backup architecture that includes cloud-based options like Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking systems. It uses VoIP to connect a private branch exchange (PBX) to the internet, replacing conventional telephone trunks and allowing the enterprise to communicate with fixed and mobile telephone subscribers globally.

Plan for a Plan

Having a disaster-recovery strategy in place to assess risk, clearly itemize essential business functions, and set priorities is crucial. Data system risks can be evaluated in terms of data networks, telephone systems, servers, data backup, security, and applications.

It is also wise to have a disaster-recovery team create and activate the recovery plan, monitor the disaster, and restore the enterprise back to normal operations. The team would be responsible for testing the plan through periodic mock trials to ensure it works and to make any necessary architectural and procedural improvements. Test the complete loss of systems and execute the recovery plan at least once a year.

Most enterprises think of a disaster as a surprise, an abrupt disruption in all or part of operations. A better strategy is to assume something might happen and to get ahead of the curve. With a disaster-recovery plan, the enterprise has the best chance at mitigating the potential cost and resource impact—and protecting the bottom line.

Christian-Verstraete1About the author: Christian Verstraete, Chief Technologist, Cloud, Helion Professional Services, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, combines a good understanding of business environments with a vast knowledge in information technology to advise customers on when and how to migrate their applications to the cloud. He has extensive knowledge of the manufacturing industry and a deep understanding of the supply chain. Having worked with customers in other industries, he can leverage best practices across industry boundaries. Through blogging and social media activities, he gained a good experience in social media. Verstraete brings with him more than 30 years of experience working with companies around the globe developing IT solutions that address the needs of the business.