Redefining Disaster Recovery: New Technologies Provide Disaster Planning Challenges and Solutions

In addition to covering physical data centers, branches, and ATMs, banks' disaster recovery and business continuity plans now have to cover digital and virtual presences as well. New technologies such as social networking, mobile and the cloud can help.
February 23, 2012

Elevating Disaster Planning Beyond Information Technology

By Kooros Mahmudi, SVP, Marsh Risk Consulting (New York)

Banks' disaster recovery plans have historically been driven by information technology, with a focus on mitigating the isolated loss of specific data center components, applications and/or technology infrastructure. Today — thanks to stricter regulation, greater awareness of business continuity needs at the board level, and the proliferation of distributed and remote data centers — such strategies and requirements are typically driven by business units and go beyond IT. Banks now plan, train and test many disaster scenarios, including the complete loss of primary data centers, long-term loss of primary office space and a high percentage loss of workforce.

The first lesson from past catastrophes: A regional event can profoundly affect public infrastructure and disaster recovery, disrupting utilities, airports, roads and commercial access. Second, while remote personnel may be available as backups following a catastrophic event, they may not have the training, access rights or intimate knowledge needed to do so accurately, effectively and efficiently. Finally, to assure business as usual, bank interdependencies must be fully understood to synchronize transacting, processing and monitoring core processes and technologies -- otherwise, you risk transaction integrity, revenue loss, liquidity crunch, reputational damage and regulatory violations.

Storage area networks can provide high-speed data access and data replication from a primary to a back-up location. Cloud computing and server virtualization also provide continuous data and business processing, while virtual private networks and associated security infrastructure enable remote access by employees. Finally, fiber optic-based network technology provides high-speed transport of data from the primary to a distant back-up data center, ensuring zero to minimal data latency and data loss.

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