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Key elements in disaster and recovery planning.

With the natural catasrophes that affected many business operations in 1989, disaster and recovery planning has become a very visible issue within the telecomm industry.

When disaster strikes, four key individuals are looked upon to return the company to normalcy: safety managers, facilities managers, MIS managers, and--yes--telecommunications managers. These four disciplines are crucial because they hold ultimate responsibility for services that have become the infrastructure of how we conduct business.

The following is a broad eight-step process of establishing an emergency action plan.

Step 1: Establish an emergency action team. Choose personnel who feel a plan is critical and are willing to make time to actively participate. The team should be well represented by departments that are heavy telecomm services users.

Step 2: Identify primary and secondary potential service outages. Primary focus should be concentrated on both inside and outside influences in your business environment. For example, fire and water damage are primary inside disaster concerns while earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes are outside influences.

Secondary disasters can be more dangerous. Examples include the sudden unavailability of your primary vendor or a toxic fire in the neighborhood.

Step 3: Identify critical functions and personnel. Identifying critical functions should be done by members of the emergency action team chosen in Step 1. This is the primary reason for their participation. It will become clear that telecomm services will be an integral part of minimum requirements.

Primary concerns should include the main listed telephone number, lines into voice-mail services, 800 services for critical departments and dial back-up capabilites for data services.

Critical personnel needs to be defined to support safety and customer service functions. Individuals likely to be included are safety, security, facilities, customer support, order processing, payroll and, possibly, manufacturing personnel.

Step 4: Brainstorm vulnerabilities of your operations. By nature, communications services are vulnerable because they are dependent on commercial power, and equipment can be damaged.

Three stages of alarms should be defined: minor, major and disaster. A minor alarm, such as a dead phone, is defined as having resources for repair without outside assistance. A major outage, such as a power failure, is defined as being not totally reparable without outside assistance.

A disaster is defined as a situation in which key in-house resources have become disabled for an unknown period of time.

Step 5: Research alternatives. Your local telephone company service representatives are an excellent source of information. Many services are potentially available to you, depending upon the degree of the particular outage.

Usually, redundant cable routing from an alternate central office is expensive, but it might be worth the cost. A small trunk group of cellular lines can be installed as an alternate access route. Most carriers offer 800 service route diversity in case of dedicated (T1) line failure. Research the advantages of such emergency services.

Aside from services, hardware provisioning also needs to be defined. Three predominant choices are available: hot site, cold site and a reciprocal agreement.

A reciprocal agreement can be arranged with companies to perform your data processing requirements. Be sure the alternate source has the capability to perform your anticipated requirements.

Step 6: Implement prevention issues. In the San Francisco earthquake, Pacific Bell used voice mail as a means of communicating information to key personnel. An emergency voice mailbox should be created to enabled employees to call in for information.

A system distribution list also should be created to enable members of the emergency action team to send and share information between them. An updated company telephone directory should be kept at home by all members of the emergency response team. Valuable records should be duplicated and stored off-site to avoid permanent loss.

Individuals who will be utilizing emergency communications services need to be trained.

Step 7: Document and practice reinitialization procedures. Many so-called disasters we have come to accept are self-inflicted. Key operators possess too much operations knowledge to be kept secret. All procedures on what to do in case of minor and major alarms need to be clearly defined and readily accessible.

Step 8: Document and practice emergency action plan. Practicing the plan will expose liabilities. A good rule of thumb is to practice every two to tree months. If new hires are going to be in positions were action regarding the plan is necessary, education should become part of the orientation process.

Emergency action preparedness is not a project--it's a process. Greg Majjasie Voice/data telecomm manager Finnigan Corp.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Disaster Recovery; involving telecommunications managers in emergency planning
Author:Majjasie, Greg
Publication:Communications News
Article Type:Tutorial
Date:Apr 1, 1992
Previous Article:New York builds in network reliability.
Next Article:Designing networks with disaster in mind.

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