by Divina Paredes

Power outage in Auckland propels business continuity in the spotlight

Oct 06, 20144 mins
Business ContinuityBusiness Process ManagementCareers

The ongoing power outage in Auckland highlights one of the evergreen concerns organisations should be prepared for – business continuity management (BCM).

Business continuity programs have always been on thetop five of IT investments for oganisations in CIO100, the annual report on the top ICT using organisations in New Zealand.

Continuity of operations following a disaster is vital to maintaining organisational confidence, reputation and, possibly, even survival, note Gartner analysts Roberta J. Witty and John P Morency.

“As a top-level executive concern, it must be a perpetual organisational initiative covering all business processes,” the two state in a recent paper Foundations of Business Continuity Management.

They write that the convergence of 24×7 service delivery, globalisation of business processes and increasing regional disasters are transforming business continuity management (BCM) into the operational risk management (ORM) discipline. ORM, they say, is also maturing and driving increased BCM maturity.

They also note how enterprises with a flexible and agile culture are able to define monetary and non-financial impact from these incidents and, as a result, typically have the most effective BCM and IT service continuity management (IT SCM).

They point out responding to an incident in crisis mode without planning, coordination and testing will lead to more downtime, higher recovery costs due to “on demand” buying and a possible lack of recovery resource availability, especially during a regional event.

A siloed program is not effective – BCM practices must be built into the day-to-day operations of the business. Roberta J. Witty and John P Morency, Gartner

Further findings claim a BCM program must be an enterprise-wide initiative, with disciplines applied globally across all locations, lines of business (LOBs) and workforces; and accommodating local or functional concerns.

“A siloed program is not effective – BCM practices must be built into the day-to-day operations of the business,” they add.

Executive sponsorship and program governance to provide adequate resources – both staff and financial – are important.

“This is especially important in a changing business and IT environment,” the analysts note. “Every change requires a review of BCM strategy and recovery plans to ensure that recovery practices meet the current production practices.

Without this constant review, recovery may not be successful due to out-of-date recovery plans, procedures and supporting technologies, they state.

Following the outage, which was caused by a workstation fire on Sunday, organisations across Auckland have discussed with CIO New Zealand how the event has impacted – or otherwise – their daily operations.

John Holley, regional operations director at Jericho Digital Communications in Auckland, says their office is outside the area impacted by the power outage, but if it were, the impact would not be felt by their customers.

“Ninety-five per cent of our infrastructure is in Tier 4 data centres around the world, so a power cut for us would have had no material impact on clients,” he says.

Ninety-five per cent of our infrastructure is in Tier 4 data centres around the world, so a power cut for us would have had no material impact on clients. John Holley, Jericho Digital Communications

The same is true for the New Zealand Association of Credit Unions, whose headquarters is in Newmarket, one of the areas affected by the power outage.

NZACU CIO Deane Johns in Newmarket, says it is “business as usual” on Monday, as none of their systems were impacted. There are no systems on site, as these are housed in data centres managed by Datacom and Spark Digital.

Claudia Vidal, general manager, IB4T based in Mount Wellington, says the company has its own generators, with both running since Sunday as staff have been working during the weekend.

“Staff are currently at work and observing energy conservation,” she says.

Murray Mitchell, ICT director (acting), at the New Zealand Fire Service, says the Hazardous Material (Hazmat) Command Vehicles were deployed in the affected areas.

These vehicles are equipped with all channels of connectivity and technology on board. “You name it, it has got it,” he states.

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