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Series: Issues facing today's IT operations and maintenance teams
[Part 5] BCP (Business Continuity Plan)

[ Mar 22, 2018 ]

ICT is the fulcrum of business continuity and disaster recovery.

Running services at all times is crucial for successful businesses. To keep services up and running, business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) are necessary. BC keeps systems running and data available during interruptions or faults. DR brings systems back to normal after disasters.

The main reason the ICT division together with business units of a company should take leadership in BC and DR is because IT has become central in most business environments. Almost all employees use IT on a daily basis, including such as communication, sales and back office production. The ICT division of a company acts like a hub for businesses, making it most suited for taking the initiative in planning for DR taken from BC plan from business units .

However, planning for BC and DR is a difficult task. Determining which measures should be taken can get complex and laying out a plan is not a straight forward job.
Let’s look at the type of disasters that need to be considered in terms of BC planning. Then we will look at how data centers can be utilized in formulating DR plans.

Business continuity: BC

BC is about how to continue services or businesses in the event of disasters. To sustain businesses, business owners must be prepared since unforeseen risks can cause huge damages. There are different types of disasters. For BC, business owners have to face potential risks and construct plans on how to continue operating under the circumstances.

Here we list examples of disasters to consider.

Human cause:
Loss or theft of employee laptops can lead to security disasters, and could allow intrusion into the system using stored data. Having a strong security system in place could prevent damage stemming from such operational hazards.

Natural cause:
Earthquakes, Tsunami, heavy rains, flooding and wild fires. Such natural disasters can lead to the loss of employees, damaged office buildings and destruction of infrastructure. In BC, having a robust workspace and measures for tracking employee safety must be taken into account.

Geopolitical cause:
Terrorist attacks, large scale demonstrations and war. These events are often complex and makes it difficult to predict the effect and damage they may cause. Business owners may have to consider moving entire operations to different regions or even overseas.

Preparing for multiple disasters is a complex and difficult task to undertake. By taking advantage of data centers, preparing for BC can become more realistic. This is because data centers are equipped with disaster recovery (DR) capabilities.

Disaster recovery: DR

DR is about recovering and protecting services from disasters. While DR is a subset of BC, DR is more focused on the recovery process. DR involves various techniques, methods with skilled IT resources and equipment, and depending on the magnitude of disaster, it can easily get costly and complex. By utilizing the right data centers, some of the work load and planning can be outsourced. Let's look at how data centers can be used for DR.

Here we list the capabilities of a typical data center in terms of DR:

1.Having data centers as service backups.
In an event of a disaster, running services at a single location can be very risky. Having multiple sites available allows businesses to switch between sites and continue carrying on necessary operations. Replicating entire services can be costly, so it is recommended to focus on replicating just the crucial parts of the services as a backup in data centers until full recovery.

2.Data backup
Every service has its own way of storing data and it is always good to have a backup. Business risks can increase substantially without a backup.
Running services on-site increases risks of losing data from fires, other natural disasters and human errors. Having backups in data centers will keep data safe from disasters. Data centers automate data backup, reducing workload and minimizing human errors.

3.Stability of data centers.
Data centers are built inside dedicated buildings specially designed for serving IT equipment, power supplies and connection cables with skilled IT engineers and operation team. These features will prevent service providers from unwanted power outage, sabotage caused by human causes and fire. Data centers are also built in safe areas, minimizing risks from terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

4.Redundant features of data centers.
Data center redundancy features will vary from provider to provider. Always check which features are available when signing up with a service provider and make certain they satisfy the needs of the BCDR plan.

  • 4.1 Power supply:
    Data centers are usually equipped with its own redundant features. The most common feature is Uninterrupted Power Supply, or “UPS.” UPS will run if there are any power outages in data centers, enabling hosting services to run for hours or days. Depending on data centers, the optional features will vary. According to the BCP of your company, it is always a good idea to check which features are available when signing up with data centers.
  • 4.2 Network:
    Having two network cables can be expensive due to physical and capacity constraints of buildings. Data centers have multiple network cables so that if one network drops they can switch to another, enabling services to access networks with minimal downtime.

BC and DR are crucial parts of continuity of businesses, without which businesses may potentially be faced with tremendous risks that could lead to catastrophic damages to companies, sometimes even leading to bankruptcies. It is highly recommended for management to cooperate and analyze risks and create realistic plans for both BC and DR.

NTT Communications’ data centers are equipped with these features, making it ideal for business continuity.

Tips: Thailand

Every company may have the chance to face the unpredictable situation such as natural disaster, political demonstration, office rental problem and others. Those situations may cause of business interruption for the company and it has the effect on the business. So, the company should have the plan to make sure that your business will have the best plan to recover quickly when face the situation.

Comment from Anaphat Lertjirakul, Data Center Business Department at NTT Communication Thailand

"One of NTT Com's Customer faced the problem that a building owner refused to lease the building space. So they have plan to relocate existing site to new site once the contract had been ended. Fortunately, they have colocation and BCP office with NTT communication Thailand, which the data center ensures safety, all power system and network facility are fully redundant. This makes them be able to work without business disruption. The lines of communication are still available to our customer during this transition period and continue carrying on main business operations with a data backup in data center until full recovery. Taking all these safety features into account, we realize that having alternate site helps us survive any unforeseen circumstances."

Thailand Bangkok 2 Data Center

Bangkok 2 Data Center includes office space in the data center building for use during business continuity planning (BCP) operations. The data center is located an appropriate distance from the center of Bangkok and is an optimum location for a BCP site with low political and natural disaster risks. Bangkok 2 Data Center is also the first Board of Investment of Thailand (BOI) approved large-scale purpose-built data center with a high availability infrastructure in Thailand. The data center provides dedicated space on customer request.

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