Andrew Douglas, senior manager in Deloitte’s Enterprise Risk Services Team examines the latest trends in business continuity and resiliency.
With the 2012 hurricane season already under way, much attention is currently being paid by organisations and individuals to the physical threats posed by storms.
“Certainly the Cayman Islands is becoming more capable in its infrastructure and capabilities to respond and remain resilient against the storm menace,” says Taron Jackman, a partner at Deloitte & Touche (Deloitte) in the Cayman Islands. Examples of these improvements include the in-progress construction of the Cayman Island’s new Doppler radar system, to allow for more accurate weather forecasting and storm tracking, as well as the on-going development by the Cayman Islands Government of its new emergency command centre in Little Cayman and the Cayman Brac emergency shelter. Private sector telecommunications companies are also adding infrastructure, including new underground fibre-optic cabling and bandwidth, as well as improving wireless voice and data networks, allowing for more robust on-island communications. Finally the implementation of closed circuit television monitoring is an example of infrastructure that may allow emergency responders to have better remote insight into conditions on the ground across Grand Cayman should a serious storm hit.
“As we get smarter about storms, which are and always will be a key threat, it is equally important to consider what are the new and emerging threats to our businesses and economy, to make sure we don’t overlook new threats or opportunities to improve resiliency” says Wayne Green from Deloitte, who leads technology for the Deloitte managed Disaster Recovery Centre in George Town. The DRC, which has operated for over seven years from its Citrus Grove location, offers a range of continuity and resiliency solutions that are tailored and bundled to meet the needs of various organisations, to protect their people, systems, and data, and to allow business operations to resume or continue in a secure environment should a disaster strike.
“The 2012 hurricane season is forecast to be near normal, and thankfully Cayman has not experienced significant damage from storms since Hurricane Paloma in 2008. However, threats and challenges for business resiliency change, and through our DRC services, we are seeing a number of organisations taking a hard look at their business and what needs to be accomplished to stay resilient,” says Jackman. Several of the resiliency threats and opportunities identified by Deloitte for 2012 include:
The need for cyber resilience
Over the past few months there have been a series of high profile breaches to data globally, including those such as the LinkedIn credential breach, which have impacted Cayman residents, as well as on-island news reports of Cayman organisations suffering website defacements. Deloitte is also aware of other malicious cyber activities occurring, such as attempts to socially engineer access to business information, as well as privately disclosed breaches of cyber security across the Caribbean. Organisations are increasingly aware that they need to respond to cyber threats that may result in harm, but the skills and knowledge to undertake such responses are not typically as well developed as for traditional threats, such as hurricanes. In 2011, recognising the interdependence of private and public sector organisations in today’s global, hyperconnected environment, the World Economic Forum established a global, multi-industry, multi-stakeholder initiative to improve cyber resilience, raise business standards and to contribute to a safer and stronger connected society. In March of this year, as part of this initiative, the WEF released a series of guidelines titled Risk and Responsibility in a Hyperconnected World – Principles and Guidelines, for which Deloitte acted as Project Advisors. The principles and guidelines booklet, available online without charge from the WEF’s website, contains a useful and relatively quick checklist tool for chief executives and other C-suite executives to help guide their internal review of their organisation’s cyber resilience capabilities.
“For larger organisations that have significant cyber presence, this is a very useful tool to start framing the discussion about cyber threats and risks and how to improve cyber resiliency. We are seeing the C-suite and board members increasingly concerned about the cyber risks their organisations are exposed to,” says Andrew Douglas, senior manager from Deloitte’s Enterprise Risk Services group.
The rise of mobile continuity applications
Along with threats and challenges, new technology offers opportunities for improving resilience. Mobile devices and applications have become important for organisations looking to become more resilient, allowing employees to access data and perform tasks remotely. Besides being communications tools alone, leading edge organisations are using mobile business continuity tools to help bring the most important information needed by their employees during a continuity event directly to the mobile devices. Examples of such tools include Deloitte’s Bamboo smartphone product, which supports a number of different mobile platforms and contains local copies of business continuity and crisis management response plans, and other “immediate need” information. In addition these tools leverage the inherent benefits of mobile platforms, such as location tracking services to provide updates on continuity team member locations at any time.
For companies that manage the application profiles of their employee’s mobile devices, there are also other useful tools that organisations may wish to consider purchasing and pushing to devices directly. An example of such a tool is the American Red Cross First Aid application for smartphones, which provides emergency information for first aid, safety, and surviving various emergency situations.
“It’s unlikely that such applications will be used on a regular basis, but they are invaluable should disaster strike. The low cost of many of these applications – the Red Cross application is free – makes them affordable to organisations and individuals alike,” says Green.
Cloud resiliency services are growing, but tape isn’t dead yet
There continues to be increased use of cloud based IT services by businesses globally as well as here in the Cayman Islands. The usage of cloud services is driven by a number of factors, one of which is increasing the resiliency of operations through distributed storage and processing of data in secure locations not prone to the same environmental concerns as the Cayman Islands. Many cloud service providers are increasing the variety of options to support and scale standby disk and servers in cost effective ways to meet larger backup and disaster recovery needs as firms transition more services to the cloud. However traditional tape based backup isn’t dead yet, and in fact it is alive and well and very much remaining a key component of many organisation’s backup strategies. Predictions from IT research firm Enterprise Strategy Group are that the midrange and enterprise tape market will grow 45 per cent per year through 2015 and by some counts the volume of tape storage sold annually still exceeds the amount of disk space. Next generation tape standards planned for release this year (the LTO 6 specification) raise expected linear tape compressed capacity to 6.25 terabytes.
“There is growing potential for hybrid ‘tape in the cloud’ options, and there are companies such as Fujifilm’s Permivault providing such a service. As big data becomes more of an issue, organisations need to understand how to leverage both tried and trusted methods, such as tape, with new technologies such as cloud backup, to make their resiliency programmes effective, but also to manage resiliency costs competitively,” says Douglas.
Deloitte Cayman Islands is an affiliate of Deloitte Caribbean and Bermuda Limited, a member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. © 2012 Deloitte Caribbean and Bermuda Limited and its affiliates