Disaster Recovery Plan is a Business Plan' with IT Components

By Srinivasan M, Corporate IT Head, Hotel Leela Venture

srinivasIn the hospitality industry a disaster recovery plan plays a key role in making businesses smart. A disaster recovery plan can help hotels to protect guests and employees during business-disrupting events and resume operations on a peaceful note. After all, any business can handle only a limited amount of service disruption before recovery becomes impossible. Building a comprehensive disaster recovery plan can be daunting, as plans can get quite specific based on different types of circumstances. 

As we become more "digital” by nature, we also become more dependent on data and, in some ways, less dependent upon applications. In our workspace, the trend seems to be clearly moving away from large expensive proprietary applications in favour of cloud or software-as-a-service modes of processing. Hence, it is more important for any industry to have a more robust plan for disaster recovery / business continuity management.

As the proverbial saying goes, “A business is only as successful as its ability to continue to operate under all circumstances”, business that do not have a well-planned disaster recovery strategy in place is likely to fall short sooner rather than later. A well designed disaster recovery strategy precedes an organised business continuity plan which drafts the successful restart of the business after a disruptive event.

Business continuity management 
Having an effective and viable business continuity management plan as part of disaster recovery, bullet proofs your business. Some of the most effective business continuity plans that should be incorporated into a disaster recovery plan are:

• Alert the Crisis Management Team to action,
• Effective response to the incident/ occurrence,
• Coordinate with key organisation resources,
• Prioritise essential hotel functions during disruption,
• Communicate with hotel staff, stakeholders and media,
• Recover from the disruption in a logical, systematic manner customised to that business, 
• Minimise and manage risk to key assets, and
• Mitigate loss to business, revenue; brand damage and reputation in coordination with the hotel top management

Few disaster recovery plans commonly followed includes:

1) Keep a backup of important software’s off-site. Currently lot of logistic service providers assist in providing storage area.
2) Options for storing the backup using cloud / datacentre.
3) Authenticity of backups to be tested once by restoring the backup set in a standby server environment.
4) Replica of the hardware setup in an alternate location with backup connectivity.
5) Hosting most of the applications outside premise for instance data centre / cloud.
6) Data encryption.Potential threats and solutions.

Potential threats and solutions
Disaster at an organisation level can be anything ranging from fire to earthquake to human error that could lead to irrevocable loss, if an effective backup is unavailable. Hotels must be prepared in advance with a detailed plan suitable to the nature of the disaster. In case of any fire then the first and foremost activity is to move the hardware’s to a safer location and operate from alternate location inside the premise. IT team should be trained to use specific fire extinguisher based on the nature of the disaster. Ideally, server rooms must be equipped with sensor / vapour gas to identify the smoke and to fight any fire related incidents. Also it is recommended to keep the security measures such as alerting IT team or engineering team when the server room temperature goes beyond certain limit / hardware fault alarm. 

In case of any untoward incidents, it is important to remember to block access to the server / communication room. IT team should assemble in a safe location and discuss about the possibility of operating from the alternate location. Data’s from the central location will have to be extracted in order to connect with guest using their registered mobile numbers for alerting are some of the key things hotels have to consider. 

Conclusion

In order to make Disaster recovery / Business continuity management possible, organizations need to incorporate it into the standard operating procedure. Develop key management protocol and procedures during crisis. Training the key management and hotel staff to operate effectively during a major incident is crucial. An effective business continuity plan should also consider the company policy aside providing an opportunity to resume business. It is also pertinent to maintain an effective corporate, media and stakeholder communications to ensure openness. Lastly, “A good disaster recovery/business continuity plan is not an IT plan; it is a business plan that has significant IT components.”

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