What about Business Continuity in the Event of a Natural Disaster?

Posted by Sabrina Sturm Tue, 13 Sep 2011 12:13:00 GMT

Today´s interview deals with ensuring business continuity in the event of (natural) disasters and the importance of this topic for companies. We are very pleased to chat with Domenick Cilea, president of Springboard, marketing, public relations and social media agency based in New Jersey. To keep the agency fully operational, Springboard had to ensure that its business activities were not interrupted by the recent hurricane - “Irene.” Domenick Cilea (and his employees) experienced the hurricane first-hand and is therefore able to assess this topic from a personal perspective.

Hurricane Irene hit the U.S. East Coast last weekend. In advance of the impending hurricane, state and local officials ordered evacuations of more than two million residents in coastal areas. Furthermore, many flights were cancelled and mass transportation was halted. In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, experts are estimating the damage to reach billions of dollars from flooding and fallen trees. Three million customers lost power in the days after the hurricane and many more are still without access to electricity. In this context, the question arises: How do you ensure business continuity in event of a nature disaster?

How did you personally experience Irene?
Unfortunately, the aftermath of Hurricane Irene – trees and floods damaging distribution lines – impacted electrical service at my home and office. While our agency office’s lost power for most of one business day, my home did not get restored until four days later.

Did you think of what to “do” with your clients and how to fulfill your business tasks during this time?
Absolutely. In advance of the storm, we provided all employees with updates on the availability of our network resources. In fact, we shut down all of our virtualized servers as a precaution. Because the storm took place over the weekend, the shut down did not impact our ability to service clients. On Monday morning, when realizing there were widespread outages throughout New Jersey, we quickly mobilized employees to alert clients of our situation. Each employee worked remotely using their laptops, tablets and smartphones and they were able to use several cloud-based applications to ensure business operations.

Springboard’s corporate email was not accessible as a result of the power outage but employees leveraged Gmail and social media services such as Twitter to communicate internally and with clients.

How did the option to remotely access your company data ensure business continuity?
Because our file server was unavailable (during the power outage), employees were able to access backed up files which are stored in the cloud.

Where do you see major advantages for companies to have a disaster recovery plan including a remote access solution?
Without a disaster recovery plan, a company’s business is at significant risk. In the event of a disaster, network failure or other disruptive events, business continuity must be ensured from both a data protection and remote access perspective.

In order for a business to maintain operations, employees should have access to pertinent IT resources.

In addition to application, network and file availability, organizations must also consider the connectivity options associated with remote access.  Both physical and wireless connectivity should be built into business continuity initiatives in order to give employees access to their applications and data.

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