1948 years ago in AD 63 an earthquake in southern Italy by the gulf of Naples seriously damaged the ancient city of Pompeii causing an undetermined number of deaths and spread out destruction, but the locals went to work rebuilding in the same spot until they were buried by the eruption of the Vesuvius volcano 16 years later in AD 79.
Galveston TX Hurricanes
Average Brushed or hit every 2.94 years Average Direct hit every 8.63 years
The Great Storm of 1900 - Sep 8th 1900 - Pop: 42,000 residents Category 4 @ 135 mph -Great loss of life between 6,000 and 12,000 individuals – officially 8,000
The 1915 Storm, August 17th, Category 4 @ 135 mph 42 people dead in the Galveston area
$60 - 1915 million dollars in damage
Ike Sep 13th 2008 - The third most destructive hurricane to ever make landfall in the United States Final landfall in Galveston Texas as a strong cat 2 with cat 5 equivalent storm surge winds extended 120 miles from the center.
Blamed for at least 195 deaths – 74 in Haiti and 112 in the USA 300 still missing. - Damages estimated at 24 billion (2008) US Dollars
Resulted in the largest evacuation in the state of Texas history and the largest search and rescue operation in US history
Chernobyl, An Experiment Gone Wrong
On Saturday, April 26th, 1986 at 1:23 am, one of the reactors at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded. Ironically, the experiment consisted in testing how the power plant would respond in the event of an accident. The operators at the plant wanted to bring down the power output of the reactor to 25%, but over-confidence, poor training and poor knowledge of how a reactor works caused them to overdo it, and they ended up bringing down the power output to 1%. When they then tried to bring it up to 25%, the reactor overheated and exploded causing the worst nuclear accident in history.
When forces beyond your control take over and start crashing around you, it may not be the proper time to start development of a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) for your business.
An innocuous mischance of a utility worker digging on the street, inadvertently cutting a communication cable supporting your business may be all you need to unravel a disaster that can prove to be a costly proposition to your budgets, and an embarrassment to your company.
Yes, we know, it is the network and facilities manager’s responsibility to imagine the worst kind of system outages and plan for continuous system operation despite the failures, and the elusive corporate responsibility to ensure safety of its employees and protect the investments and assets of the corporation.
Before you celebrate that a system failure will mean a day off, and/or assume that the regular backup of your data will suffice for those responsible to recover your operation, consider the risks to the business if your communication lines (voice and data) will not be operational for 5 days or longer.
Are there any interim manual procedures ready to be activated to handle the load until cables are replaced and service is restored?
A network communication failure may not be the only risk lurking to interrupt your business. Picture the consequences of an outage. What if the outage was a fire that destroyed all the materials, files, computer, phones, etc. etc. that your business depends to operate on a daily basis. Scary proposition isn’t it?
What happens when you and your people simply cannot perform the day-to-day normal functions for one day or even worse, for weeks? Think of the lost revenue, lost customers, image, reputation, bad publicity, and loss of customer’s confidence. What about ongoing projects and current commitments to deliver services and customer’s satisfaction?
Planning an adequate business resumption strategy may be one of the most misunderstood and dreaded areas that many business managers face today.
Why plan for an outage that may never happen? Why spend money and resources on a potential problem that may never materialize?
Plans for your data center may exist along with procedures that backup data and send it off-site for protection, to be used in an emergency. But when was the last time you had a thorough review of your vital records program to ensure that the data required to restore your operation is being backed up today, sent off-site and will be there when needed?
Where are your business areas (e.g. accounts receivables, accounts payable, HR etc) going to operate from, if they are affected by the same event, and plans for these business areas have not been created?
For what good is it, if in a disaster situation, the computers are recovered at an alternate location, if the users do not have alternate capability to continue operations?
If your vision of Business Continuity Planning is one of insurance, it is possible that your BCP process may not have had a chance of starting, and if you have, it may have ended up in the overhead category, and that is not where it belongs.
You cannot prevent disasters from happening, but developing a Business Continuity Plan in today’s business environment is a need, a requirement and no longer an option. For some businesses, state and federal regulations mandate it and not having it, expose them to fines and penalties.
Business Continuity Plans must be developed based on business requirements taking into consideration the requirements of the technology. After all, it is the requirement of the business that drives the technology, not the other way around.
Business Continuity Planning is not a profit-making endeavour. However, forming and implementing a strategy can result in cost savings and cost avoidance. The cost of not having an effective recovery strategy greatly exceeds the cost of creating one. The process of developing Business Continuity processes is about earning a return on investment, not in the profit sense of dollars that drop to the bottom line but one that earns a return ten fold by saving your business when the waters begin to rise.
The return derived is:
1) Reduced levels of risk of harm or injury to people, facilities, systems, and processes.
2) The lessening of the likelihood that such injury will impair, or halt the intended functioning of the business.
3) Readiness of alternate means for the business to function acceptably and being able to deliver products and services during the period of impairment or stoppage.
4) Correcting problems and bottlenecks that are normally identified in the BCP process, thus streamlining your operation and reducing potential threats to your business.
5) Lastly but of equal importance - the return is, enabling the business to return in a timely manner to the intended mode of functioning after being affected by a disaster.
The process of creating an integrated workable plan and recovery strategy is not about finding the means of minimizing the cost of the plan, but about sensibly developing the capability for the business to survive in adverse environments, comply with internal and external regulatory requirements and satisfy customers expectations that rely on the timely delivery of your products and services.
Now, imagine that you have implemented an effective plan and alternate capability; Think of all the positive aspects.
• The sense of preparedness the organization, the board of directors and investors will derive from the assured continuity process and having their assets protected.
• New customers you can generate, especially if your competitors are not as well prepared. An advertizing aspect that emphasizes the protection of your customer’s investments, and promotes the continuity of your products and services.
• The minimal disruption your business will experience in a disaster situation, by having a plan ready for execution.
• The minimized impact on your business ensuring large degree of transparency to your customers and users in a disaster situation.
It makes perfect business sense.
Roberto O. Ramirez
Enterprise Risk Worldwide, Inc