Technology trends: Impact for business continuity in Cayman

By: Andrew Douglas, Deloitte

With the 2011 hurricane season already well under way, many Cayman Islands based organisations will have undertaken, or planned to undertake, steps to protect their business operations. Successful Business Continuity Management and Disaster Recovery planning is not just about responding to hurricanes. In March of this year, Deloitte & Touche released its 2011 Technology Trends Annual report, which examines the ever-evolving landscape of technology put to business use, including for DR and BCM purposes. “Several trends identified in the report include those that we are seeing have an impact on BCM/DR planning in Cayman now – not just for hurricanes, but for increasing the overall resiliency of the organisation. These include the rise of Capability Clouds, Applied Mobility in the Enterprise, and Social Computing,” says Wayne Green, senior manager with Deloitte. “Although technology should not itself be the driver for having a robust DR or BCM plan, it can certainly be an enabler – making it easier for companies to achieve the level of resiliency and recoverability appropriate to their size and operational needs. Since establishing the Disaster Recovery Center at Citrus Grove over six years ago, we have worked with our clients each and every year to develop new services or to accommodate their changing needs – including the changes in technology outlined in the report,” says Green. The trends identified in the report include:

Capability clouds

In the past year a number of IT service providers have established cloud based services in Cayman providing different types of cloud services and capabilities. These include DR related services for technology, such as software as a service providers offering data backup to the cloud or DR access to email and other messaging services, as well as providers of platform and infrastructure as a service, such as hosting of virtual machines for server and desktop applications. The Deloitte report outlines how the tipping point of cloud computing will come when it can effectively disappear – that is when it is part of the fabric of business strategy – rather than a separate strategy or add-on consideration.

“Cloud computing is clearly a major technology trend, and we have seen a number of vendors come into the Cayman market offering specific DR services,“ says Green. “Additionally, several of our clients are effectively using the DRC as a private cloud right now, and this is not just for Cayman operations, but also effectively as a cloud capability for their Caribbean and Latin American operations. Companies are seeing the ability to centralise their off-shore DR capability needs in the region – and make the infrastructure flexible to accommodate current and future needs,” says Green.

Social computing

Another major trend identified in the report is the increasing use of social computing in the enterprise. Although many organizations in the Cayman Islands have a social media presence on sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, social computing is broader – including new technologies to help organisations communicate and harness distributed knowledge both internally and externally to the organisation. The report highlights that social computing is not a fad, and is not a consumer only technology.

“Internally and externally, Deloitte makes use of social computing platforms – be that social networks and traditional instant messaging, through to the use of wiki type tools for plans and policies, and other distributed collaboration technologies to build communities of interest and experience. When you consider your BCM/DR plan – these tools are a significant enabler and should to be factored into the plan itself – from how will you use social media to communicate with your clients and vendors, to how you will give your staff access to collaborate internally and externally when they may be working from multiple alternate locations,” says Andrew Douglas, senior manager with Deloitte. “The very nature of social computing – promoting dialogue, interaction, and knowledge sharing – is useful during continuity events, where organisations may be faced with unique challenges – and traditional continuity checklists do not fit the scenario at hand.”

Applied mobility

The report also highlights the increasing use of mobile devices and applications in the enterprise, beyond their previous role for email and phone communications. The report highlights that mobile solutions can serve “the full spectrum of transactional, analytical and social computing capabilities”, and that the lowered price point, hardware power and a critical mass of developers has increased the sophistication of mobile services.

As an example of how this impacts BCM/DR planning, Deloitte itself has globally launched a BCM/DR Smartphone application, called Bamboo, with support for several smartphone platforms, including Blackberry and Apple. Bamboo stores the most up-to-date BCM and DR plans, procedures and actions locally on each mobile device. Plans can then be accessed, regardless of location and connectivity as they are stored locally on your device and updated via push technology. The product is tailored for users and enables each person to understand their specific role during an incident. Regardless of mobile platform, the application looks the same and the Bamboo Messenger system allows cross-platform communications via the Data Layer of the mobile network.

“This is a very exciting service and really is a great example of a technology enabling business to re-think how a BCM/DR plan can work. In a true continuity event it places the information exactly where it needs to be – in front of you on your phone tailored to your exact role – not just when you can access a website or your email,” says Douglas.

DRC: More than just technology

Although the protection of IT systems and data is important, DR and BCM plans also need to factor in protection and resiliency for the organisation’s people and other types of data. With that in mind the DRC offers a range of solutions that are tailored to meet the needs of specific organisations. The major categories of service that the DRC provides include:

Data suites and co-location

In 2010 the DRC recently unveiled its Data Suites service – purpose-built personalised server rooms that are dedicated to an individual client. The Data Suites offer an ideal solution for organisations looking for a secure, customised location to safeguard their vital electronic records, without the expense of establishing and running a data centre facility. “The response to the Data Suites has been fantastic and we are already looking at extending it further. Our clients consider it higher grade than anything else on the island.” says Green.

The DRC also offers more traditional co-location hosting services for clients who would prefer to avoid the expense of establishing their own data centre facilities, but who need less than a full computer rack.

Recovery workspaces

Housed on the 2nd floor of Citrus Grove, one of the most structurally sound buildings in the Caribbean, the DRC offers more than 4,000 square feet of fully managed recovery workspace. The DRC has both four seat and six seat private Recovery Suites, offering businesses a comfortable, private, and secure environment to continue their business operations in the event of a disaster. For smaller organisations, single seating, as well as on-demand multiple seating recovery workspaces are also available.

Secure document

and media storage

Tape based back up is still common place in Cayman, with consistent demands that data is safely handled, stored and transferred so that data can be recovered as needed. In addition, many organisations still need to retain significant volumes of paper based records for legal or compliance reasons – even if they have digitalised the originals. The DRC offers secure data and media back-up storage facilities in the purpose built Citrus Grove facility. Access to the document warehouse is secured for DRC staff only to safeguard client documents, while 24/7 access to the client media storage facility is available to allow organisations to store and retrieve tapes when needed.

Professional service

with industry insight

Deloitte’s Enterprise Risk Services team in Cayman addresses technology risk from the network to the board room. The team has a solid understanding of continuity specific regulations, industry guidance and trends, and prides itself on the ongoing enhancement of continuity and resiliency solutions in line with the changing profile of global risks.

The multi-disciplinary skills of Deloitte encompass technology change, integration and assurance, risk intelligence, threat analysis, emergency response, and supply chain and quality management. After six years of protecting Cayman, Deloitte’s focus continues to be on improving the preparedness and resiliency of its clients.

A full copy of Deloitte’s Technology Trends 2011 
annual report is available 
from the Deloitte website at 
www.deloitte.com

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