There’s been a great deal of publicity surrounding this year’s cold and flu season, and for understandable reasons given the introduction of the H1N1 vaccine around the U.S. The amount of literature in airports, on TV and in magazines have been clear and concise; take simple, but effective and necessary, precautions against catching and spreading the seasonal bacterial and viral bugs to family, friends and co-workers.
This good advice should not be lost to those in charge of corporate networks. In fact, now is one of the best times for you to review your IT Disaster Recovery Plans before it becomes too late to do so.
The key here is that while many IT issues can be prevented, other circumstances outside of anyone’s control can and will prevent employees from being physically able to get to the office, and cause severe disruptions in the process. Though many companies offer VPN access to the small percentage of staff members who regularly travel or are based in remote areas, situations like the ones described here could result in a sizable rise in the number of employees needing to use a company’s IT systems away from the workplace. Organizations that can’t flex to such an increase in demand will not only negatively impact productivity, but quite possibly put their entire network system uptime at risk.
So in the spirit of the season, we recommend that you look at the efficacy of your Disaster Recovery Plan by answering these three questions.
  • Do you have a remote access surge plan? Can the company rapidly increase the number of secure access points to its network for employees that find themselves unable to come to the office for extended, albeit temporary, periods of time? If the answer is no, it might be wise to think of some of the recent natural disasters, such as the Iowa floods from two years ago, and come up with a “worst case scenario” strategy in how to build up capacity on short notice to help more staff members gain remote connectivity.

    One effective way for you to do this is to identify sources that offer one, two or three-month access points licenses in order to enable network administrators the capability to immediately increase their remote user count in the event of a significant operational disruption. This works like an insurance policy toward any future planned or unplanned event when remote traffic looks to increase from current user counts to hundreds or even thousands of additional users.
  • Is the temporary access you provide these folks secure? It’s important to ensure that employees working virtually due to unforeseen circumstances still have the same security protection as they would in the office without compromising the integrity of the IT network.

    Doing so means that the additional temporary access points obtained should come with such safeguards as:
    Multiple operating system support
    User group-oriented virtual portal customization
    Multiple Internet login for rapid connection for users from different regions
    A wide range of authentication methods (digital certificates, dynamic passwords) for enhanced security
    Single-Sign-On to reduce the hassle of memorizing passwords

  • Do you have help? Organizations should not have to go at it alone, but rather enlist their system integrators and product vendors to help make this happen. The best partners are the ones who should have offerings that specifically meet this demand. They should also have an arsenal of best practices to provide companies with lessons learned from others.
    References are a must here; such companies should be able to provide you with contact information of key folks inside organizations that were in such a bind and able to recover from it with the system integrator’s help. Due diligence is a vital component in choosing the right partner.       

Having a workable Disaster Recovery Plan that can respond to all types of security and access issues – including those that come about from natural phenomenon or health epidemics – can be the difference between staying up and going down. No one can predict the future, but rest assured; it will hold unforeseen challenges and circumstances. Youcan stay ahead of the curve by developing strategies and identifying resources that can help adjust to situations beyond their control. For it’s not a question of if such an issue will occur, but rather when.