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Risk response measures

Most organizations will have to adopt a balanced approach where risk reduction and recovery are complementary and both are required. This entails reducing, as far as possible, the risks to the continued provision of the IT service and is usually achieved through Availability Management. However well planned, it is impossible to completely eliminate all risks – for example, a fire in a nearby building will probably result in damage, or at least denial of access, as a result of the implementation of a cordon. As a general rule, the invocation of a recovery capability should only be taken as a last resort. Ideally, an organization should assess all of the risks to reduce the potential requirement to recover the business, which is likely to include the IT services.

The risk reduction measures need to be implemented and should be instigated in conjunction with Availability Management, as many of these reduce the probability of failure affecting the availability of service. Typical risk reduction measures include:

  • Installation of UPS and backup power to the computer
  • Fault-tolerant systems for critical applications where even minimal downtime is unacceptable – for example, a banking system
  • RAID arrays and disk mirroring for LAN servers to prevent against data loss and to ensure continued availability of data
  • Spare equipment/components to be used in the event of equipment or component failure – for example, a spare LAN server already configured with the standard configuration and available to replace a faulty server with minimum build and configuration time
  • The elimination of SpoFs, such as single access network points or single power supply into a building
  • Resilient IT systems and networks
  • Outsourcing services to more than one provider
  • Greater physical and IT-based security controls
  • Better controls to detect service disruptions, such as fire detection systems, coupled with suppression systems
  • A comprehensive backup and recovery strategy, including off-site storage.

The above measures will not necessarily solve an ITSCM issue and remove the risk totally, but all or a combination of them may significantly reduce the risks associated with the way in which services are provided to the business.

Off-site storage

One risk response method is to ensure all vital data is backed up and stored off-site. Once the recovery strategy has been defined, an appropriate backup strategy should be adopted and implemented to support it. The backup strategy must include regular (probably daily) removal of data (including the CMS to ease recovery) from the main data centres to a suitable off-site storage location. This will ensure retrieval of data following relatively minor operational failure as well as total and complete disasters. As well as the electronic data, all other important information and documents should be stored off-site, with the main example being the ITSCM plans.

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