The Importance of Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery: Telecommunications Infrastructure
Be prepared. By implementing a Disaster Recovery or Business Continuity Plan, the telecommunications infrastructure gives redundant access that gives local authorities and businesses the ability to allow minimal downtime and continuous operation in the face of disaster.
Telecommunications is very vital to the disaster recovery process. The arrival of a disaster situation requires prompt notification and mobilization of key management and recovery personnel who are often at different locations. Coordination among key officials of government agencies usually transpires over the telecommunications networks; helping to guarantee a more coordinated and measured response (Houck, 2004).
Because of the complexities of recovering a telecommunications network, it is important to have a prior plan in place that ensures you are protected when a disaster occurs. When beginning the planning process for a response in the event of a disaster, it is necessary to have an understanding of the organization's critical business functions.
What is a Disaster?
In a disaster, telecommunications infrastructure failures can occur through a variety of ways. Researching into communications failures during large urban disasters in the past fifteen years reveals three main categories of causes: Physical destruction of network components, disruption in supporting network infrastructure, and network congestion (Moss & Townsend, 2005).
More often than not, disasters happen on smaller scales, often hundreds of times more than the larger ones. Smaller disasters, such as building fires, burst pipes that flood offices, server crashes that result in corrupted data, extended power outages, and severe winter storms arise more than big disasters. Critical business processes fail for hours, days, and possibly weeks by one of these small events, serving up a fatal blow to time-critical, service-oriented businesses (Gregory, 2008).
The most common cause of telecommunications failures in recent disasters has been physical destruction of network infrastructure. Due to the time and financial necessity needed to repair or replace systems, service disruptions caused by physical destruction tend to be more distressing and last longer than those caused by disconnection or congestion. Even though they can be less common than outages caused by physical damage, outages caused by disruption in supporting infrastructure tend to be far more widespread and damaging to response and recovery efforts. To ensure their proper operation, telecommunications networks rely upon many other local and regional technical systems. Typically, these supporting infrastructures often date from an earlier period of time and lack resilience to physical damage (Moss & Townsend, 2005).
Another major cause of telecommunications failure during a disaster is network congestion or overload. Disasters generate the intense need for human communication, to coordinate response activities, to convey news and information, and as a panic reaction to a crisis. It is a known fact that major disasters are the most intense creators of telecommunications traffic, and the resulting surge of demand can bring down even the most well managed networks. With networks under this stress, calls are blocked and messages are lost (Moss & Townsend, 2005).
In a journal written by members of the technical staff of Bell Labs and Lucent Technologies, Houck (2004, p. 1) explains, “Critical national infrastructures for power, finance, transportation, and other basic resources rely on information and telecommunications networks (voice, data, Internet) to provide services and conduct business. While these networks tend to be highly reliable, disasters may lead to extended outages requiring days/weeks to repair.”
Having a Disaster Recovery Plan
In order to address the needs...
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Gregory, P. (2008). IT Disaster Recovery for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Hiatt, C. (2000). A Primer for Disaster Recovery Planning in an IT Environment. Hershey, PA: Idea Group Publishing.
Houck, D. (2004). A Network Survivability Model for Critical National Infrastructures. Bell Labs Technical Journal , 153-172.
Knisley, J. (1995, August 5). ECM - Implement a disaster recovery plan for telecom systems. Retrieved 8 3, 2010, from Electrical and Construction Maintenance Magazine: http://ecmweb.com/mag/electric_implement_disaster_recovery/
Moss, M., & Townsend, A. (2005). New York University Publications. Retrieved 08 01, 2010, from New York University: http://www.nyu.edu/ccpr/pubs
Taylor, L. a. (2002). A Disaster Recovery Plan for Local Municipalities using currently available communication satellite facilities and services. Proceedings of the 2002 Annual National Conference on Digital Government Research , 129, 1-11.
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