Business Continuity – An Overview

Business continuity planning, encompassing disaster recovery, minimises the impact of an incident on an organisation by ensuring alternate processes are in place for key operational functions. Business continuity planning looks to preserve assets as well as an organisation’s ability to achieve its mission, retain acceptable levels of productivity, customer service, and ultimately to stay in business.

Can an organisation be too small for business continuity planning? Business continuity planning is not consigned to large organisations; any provider of a service or product, whether it is financial, manufacturing, distribution or sales, is equally exposed to the effects of a disaster. Are you prepared if something goes wrong?

Surely a business continuity plan is not needed if adequate insurance is in place?

Quite simply insurance does not buy back lost business, it only provides money. If this is not received immediately it could adversely affect cash flow, subsequent profits and client goodwill. Studies suggest that typically only 60% of actual losses are covered. Could your organisation survive the loss? Disaster does not just occur following an incident on a grand scale. A small incident, over a short period, impacting a key process, could severely disrupt an organisation; for example, an incident in the local area that requires evacuation of the premises for hours or even days. Computers still run, phones still work and infrastructure is unharmed but there is no access to any of it until the incident is resolved. Interruption threats come from multiple sources; some more likely than others. Premises may be substantially flooded, destroying servers, or an organisation may be the victim of theft. A business continuity plan examines the likelihood of this happening and considers a response relative to the risk.

It is vital to determine what would be addressed first following an incident. Who would be contacted first? How would staff be notified? To do this you need to examine your organisation, its people, its critical processes and how these are dependent upon considerations such as IT and infrastructure support, internal dependencies and suppliers.

Incident containment and recovery solutions are numerous and varied. If a flood for example, prevented access to your premises, could client service levels continue uninterrupted? The chance of this happening would be greatly increased by your staff logging in from home until full recovery is achieved. Without plans such as this in place how can you convey a level of operational confidence to your clients?

There are many factors and aspects of business continuity. It is important to be realistic and think sensibly about how your organisation would cope with a disruptive incident. Business continuity is about mitigating the impact of this incident by minimising financial losses and protecting your organisation’s reputation.

The solutions are not just quick fixes but long-term considerations. It is possible to survive an incident, but not necessarily possible to recover from the long term impact.

Where do I start?

Business continuity concerns each and every organisation. Business systems must be resilient. If business continuity planning fails, so does that of an organisations clients. Not being able to access data, emails, and premises, or even make a phone call all have the potential to damage a business – and that is only the start. A second reason why business continuity is vital is that organisations expect IT support on demand. A business should commit to investment in failover systems in multiple locations, home working and standby power generation on-site, this way directors can be confident that a robust set of business continuity contingencies will be there.

The following pages highlight some key areas of IT business continuity that an organisation should consider. Business continuity is a huge area and this is by no means a definitive guide. What this section will hopefully do is stimulate thoughts and further questions about how you can implement cost-effective IT business continuity plans.

What options are there?

IT business continuity planning needs to address both the hardware and data contained within the system. This section highlights some of the ways you can build protection around your system. It is essential to ensure comprehensive planning is in place by using highly resilient servers, secondary power supplies, dual Internet connections, redundant storage and uninterruptable power supplies. As well as this it is recommended that companies use thin client technologies, such as Citrix and Microsoft® Terminal Services, for remote access, and virtual servers to provide both flexibility and resilience.

Resilience

You can build a lot of resilience into your IT system hardware. The aim when creating a resilient system is to remove any single point of failure. Hard disks used to store your applications and data are a likely point of failure, making them an area of risk and a key place in which to build resilience. You can build storage resilience by using a Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks (RAID). By using RAID your system can lose a hard disk and still function without interruption, giving you time to replace the failed disk.

Another way to build resilience is to address the potential failure of power supplies. IT systems prefer clean power supplies; power outages or even dirty power can cause serious problems. You can build resilience into your servers by having hotspare power supplies receiving power from different sources. This way, if one source fails the other continues whilst the failed supply is fixed. As a minimum you should have all your servers on Uninterruptable Power Supplies or UPSs as they are more commonly referred to. UPSs continually clean and smooth the spikes out of power that is provided. In the event of a power outage UPSs keep servers running long enough to safely close them down or switch to an alternative power supply. If you cannot afford to have servers down, then you need to consider alternative power supplies like standby generators that kick in automatically if they detect a power outage.

Using more than one Internet Service Provider (ISP) builds added resilience into your communications infrastructure. If one communication link fails, the other can take over. However, just having different ISPs providing broadband connections is not always enough. A further consideration should be to ensure your links to the Internet do not use the same means of connection. ISPs often use the same cable and exchange, meaning that should there be a problem between your office and the exchange, it is likely you will lose both connections. To avoid this it is recommended implementing an alternative method of connecting to the Internet such as a radio link.

Virtual Servers

Up until recently servers were built and optimised for the hardware and operating system they were running on. Now with the availability of more powerful hardware these physical servers can host multiple operating systems. Each hosted operating system is known as a virtual server. These virtual servers run their own operating systems independently of the host and the other virtual servers. Because they are no longer dependent on the hardware they are running on, it is now very easy to transfer or replicate a virtual server from one physical host to another dissimilar physical host. For business continuity purposes, restoring a server onto dissimilar hardware is a long and complicated process, but with virtual servers the process is far easier and takes a lot less time due to their hardware independence.

Another advantage of virtual servers is that it is possible to run more than one virtual server on a physical host server, thus taking advantage of any spare processing capacity on the server. Also, in a business continuity scenario it is possible to have a few powerful physical servers hosting a number of virtual servers at a remote location, be it a branch office or a hosting centre. Virtual servers can be easily replicated or restored onto these hosts at the other location ready to be enabled in the case of a business continuity scenario.

Thin Clients

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Business Continuity – An Overview

Trial Procedures: What Is a ‘Continuance’ And How Does It Work?

In any Criminal Case there are courtroom procedures that take place at each court date. From motions, to discovery, to negotiations, many things can occur before a case is resolved. One of the more common procedures is the ‘Continuance.’ A continuance is simply a request for a new court date. Though this may seem like a simple concept, in fact it can become complicated in how it is request, whether it is granted, who grants it, why it is granted, and how it can be used to your advantage. The following article will cover this courtroom procedure to better explain this important, though often overlooked, trial function.

First, as mentioned before, a continuance is a request for a new court date regarding that particular case. If granted, the court date is normally set out four to six weeks. A continuance can be granted by the Prosecutor or the Judge, depending on the Jurisdiction. In criminal cases, either the State or the Defendant can request a continuance. If the Defendant is requesting the continuance, this is normally done during at the start of court for that day, during the ‘calender call.’ The Defendant or their attorney will answer up, when their name is called, by stating “continuance” or “motion” to let the Prosecutor they are requesting a continuance. If the Prosecutor is requesting the continuance, they may request that the Defendant simply consent to it, at which point they will either continue the case themselves or request a Judge to grant the continuance. If the Defendant is requesting the continuance, the Prosecutor may grant their request and enter the continuance themselves, or they may put it in front of the Judge. This will vary by Jurisdiction as some more serious offenses may require a Judge’s consent where lower level offenses can be continued by the Prosecutor. The court paperwork should, keep track of who is requesting the continuance so that no party is given an advantage by having ‘unlimited’ continuances at their disposal.

When a continuance is granted can vary widely. In any given jurisdiction, each side will have a limited number of continuances they are permitted to use. This normally can vary, not only by jurisdiction, but also by Judge. Early on in the case, a continuance will likely be granted for little or no reason other than that party wants more time to prepared. As the case drags out, the Prosecutor (in the case of a Defendant’s request for a continuance) or the Judge may want a more specific reason as to why they should grant the continuance. Normally, in these situations, if a witness is not available, or evidence has yet to be procured, the continuance will be granted. As each party starts to use up their continuances, they will get more pressure to resolve the case. Normally, towards the end of that sides continuances, a Judge will have the paperwork marked as “last,” meaning that he is granting the continuance that day, but at the next court date, that side better be prepared to resolve the case that day. If both parties have dragged the case out, the Judge may have it marked “Last for All” meaning on the next court date, the case will be plead, tried, or dismissed.

For Criminal Defendants, a continuance can end up working to their benefit. Though no party is permitted to ask for a continuance just to delay the case or to frustrate the criminal justice system, legitimate requests for continuances in order to prepare for the case or to obtain evidence or a witness are permitted. During the delays in the case, the State’s witnesses may miss a court date. Since most State witnesses are Police Officers, this could be cause by a relocation, loss of job, quitting, training, etc. If the State loses a key witness to the case, they will have trouble proceeding with the trial. Additionally, even if the witness is still available, their memory of the events may not be as strong as they were immediately after the supposed crime. Again, this article is not advocating delaying a case for the sole purpose of obstructing justice, it is simply observing the fact that delays, inherent in criminal justice, can lead to benefits to the Defendant.

For advice on your particular criminal matter, speak with a local Criminal Attorney.

As a Raleigh Criminal Attorney and Raleigh DWI Attorney, I have had many and varied experiences in the world of Criminal Justice. I have experience on both sides of the ‘isle,’ as I have been both a Criminal Defense Attorney as well as an Assistant District Attorney.
Early in my days at North Carolina Central University School of Law, I developed an interested in Criminal Law. Specifically, how the system relies on the majority of the public not having a well rounded understanding of the laws and the Justice System used to enforce them. For that reason, I have pursued my interested into a career as a Criminal Defense Attorney working out of Raleigh, North Carolina. I opened my own law firm, Matheson Law Office, with the intention of being one of Raleigh’s top Criminal Defense Attorneys.

Disclaimer – Information and advice offered in this article is for informational and educational

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Trial Procedures: What Is a ‘Continuance’ And How Does It Work?