Resilient Enough For Doomsday
A recent Forbes Insights case study, sponsored by IBM IBM +0.37%, “Building Resiliency Into Disaster Recovery,” claims that nobody likes to ask doomsday questions. Personally, I must admit to a certain fascination with post-apocalyptic scenarios, whether they include zombies or not—so doomsday questions are no problem for me.
Maybe that’s just as well, since working through a worst-case scenario is the only way to truly understand how much resiliency a business needs—not only for disaster recovery, but for any business continuity or crisis scenario. If you don’t ask the questions, conducting a business impact analysis or categorizing critical apps can too easily devolve into an exercise of filling out forms and checklists that never touch on the really scary possibilities.
The case study looks at how Textron TXT —a multi-industry company headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, known for such brands as Beechcraft, Bell Helicopter, Cessna, E-Z-GO and Jacobsen—relies on IBM as a partner in resiliency planning to provide contingencies for a multitude of interruptions in business operations. The partnership with IBM gives Textron the flexibility to adjust resiliency strategies as business needs change. Architectural alternatives include cloud, shared floor space, dedicated recovery techniques and hybrid availability solutions. Partnering with IBM also allows Textron to support a diversified manufacturing enterprise with an efficient business continuity shared services model for its autonomous operating divisions—a far more economical plan than each division maintaining its own hardware and a team ready to step in and help manage in a real disaster.
This practical approach includes the assessment of all ramification of recovery strategy, starting with a detailed roadmap of their critical assets as well as any oblique dependencies. A list of critical assets, not just financially significant assets, is constantly updated. Some disaster plans fail to reduce the probability of panic in an emergency simply because they are too narrowly focused on the bottom line, ignoring critical infrastructure and security protocols. IBM makes sure this doesn’t happen with their partners.
The planning begins with an impact assessment on each application—how long could the company operate without access to that application? Teams then assess the hardware and software required to restore those applications and tests recovery plans to validate that recovery goals can be met. IBM provides replication on an enterprise-wide basis, offering geographic redundancy and resiliency to the local backups completed in each of its business regions. If recovery were ever necessary, Textron could switch over to IBM hardware to run any part of its enterprise. Three times a year, the company does a practice run at IBM’s fully hardened recovery site in Boulder, Colorado.
It’s not enough, however, to put everything in a facility out of town and know that it will be there when you need it. The necessary talent must also be available. Testing at Textron includes people from business units, application support, infrastructure support, project managers and power users, along with a support team from IBM and other service providers.
Ultimately, the goal is to extend the practice of recovery from restoring tactical architecture to understanding hidden dependencies and training talent in the art of maintaining a resilient enterprise through every situation—even the doomsday scenarios.
Adam Torkildson is a business adviser, startup consultant, and serial entrepreneur. He has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc, MSNBC and numerous other business magazines on a host of business related topic.