Disaster resilience: one-size fits all won’t do
A disaster resilience strategy ensures that an organisation or facility will be able to function based on an event or failure. Here some top tips for making sure your organisation is fully prepared should a disaster occur.
1. Know what you need
The terms disaster recovery and disaster resilience are often mistakenly interchanged, but ultimately, in the midst of chaos surrounding lost data and facility down time, very few people will care about the definition of the terms. However, it is vital organisations develop an understanding of both before such issues arise.
For disaster recovery, businesses need to first assess the cost of downtime whilst data is recovered, who and what is required for the recovery process and how long the process will take from disaster to recovery. For disaster resilience, businesses must assess the likely causes of the disaster, what the minimum components are for systems to still operate and how these will still be available during the disaster.
2. Make sure your plans are robust enough for a manufacturing environment
Disaster resilience plans are commonplace in corporate IT, however there is often an assumption that a solution that fits an office environment will also protect a plant environment. A recent piece of research we conducted identified that manufacturing organisations often inherit IT infrastructures specified at corporate level that are not robust enough for the plant environment. The survey also revealed that 40% of manufacturing businesses were less than confident in their organisation’s ability to get up and running again after a critical IT failure.
These worrying stats can be attributed to manufacturers being focused on developing, marketing and selling their products, and, as such, disaster resilience is often something that slips down the list of priorities – usually until something goes wrong. We’ve heard directly from engineering, operations and IT departments that there is a clear requirement for a reliable, secure and cost-effective IT solution to replace their existing systems.
3. Understand what’s at risk
The costs associated with a production facility grinding to a halt are high. Manufacturers will not only face the cost of productivity loss, but they may also face fines for missing contracted production quotas and shipments. Likewise, the associated cost of a workforce unable to do their jobs and the knock-on effect this will have down the supply chain can also hit manufacturers. Quality loss and production variability from before or after the downtime can also mean that energy, materials and man-hours are wasted manufacturing sub-substandard products.
4. Ask the right questions
It is therefore vital that manufacturers consider a number of key questions when assessing their plant-specific disaster resilience plan, including: what is the maximum allowable downtime, how and where should data be stored, how quickly must data be retrieved and mounted or restored and how do you ensure your plan actually works?
The process of developing and answering these questions will help you define the solution you require.
5. Consult the experts
It is becoming increasingly popular for organisations to utilise third parties to remotely monitor and back up systems. These services, such as SolutionPT’s Managed Platform service, offer a combination of encrypted local back-up virtualisation, off site replication and bare metal restore. Offering a complete IT system infrastructure combined with SCADA performance management and disaster resilience, Managed Platform enables manufacturers to combine performance monitoring, proactive alerting and disaster resilience to help reduce downtime, lower capital and operating costs and increase competitiveness.
Tony Mannion is the Security Expert at SolutionPT