This is a fundamental question relating to the modern day commercial world. Another, perhaps more pertinent question, might be: If a crisis strikes a business which is integral to your own, is there a plan in place for how to mitigate it?
Crises, by their very definition, threaten to cost firms money in the short and long term. Handled badly, they can damage trust beyond repair, as well as revenue.
There have been many companies in history which have not properly handled crisis and not lived to tell the tale.
Ark Data Centres and Crown Hosting stands by its words that the data centre today is not just a part of a modern-day business, in many ways, it is the business.
Remove the ability to run servers and you effectively disable the organisation.
This is why the running of data centres, from security to continuity plans, cannot be left to chance and has to be rigorously tested.
At Ark Data Centres, we live and work in the real world. This is why we took part in a major crisis training day at our Corsham estate in Wiltshire on one recent Thursday morning.
The training sessions, hosted by Archway Resilience, the crisis and resilience testing and training consultancy involved in the preparation of crisis operations for the London 2012 Olympics, challenged Ark, through its various departments and functions, over how it would react to a full-blown crisis incident.
Without going into full detail as to what this created scenario consisted of, it was a fictional situation which had developed over several weeks prior to the crisis day, and which potentially would have caused major disruption if it occurred.
The fully immersive experience included live TV reports, newspaper interest and a developing story line, all built into a self-contained crisis system which played out the story in real time and allowed Ark team members to communicate with each other and respond to developments as if they were real.
This included Service Operations, Security, Construction, Client Services, IT, Comms and Construction and Implementation
As phone lines rang and emails chimed into inboxes, the story developed – and so deepened the crisis situation and possible long-term problems. This also meant the media storyline was developing, which in turn was causing further issues to deal with. When it came to media, the crisis planners gave the clues to a working journalist to see if he could work out that the situation lead to us. He did – again creating a huge sense of realism.
Media isn’t just about TV, radio and newspapers of course – our crisis also had an impact on Social Media and it meant our teams had to be aware of what was developing among users of a Twitter-like platform.
Ark and Crown Hosting clients were invited to “watch” from afar as to how the developing situation was being handled. This was possible by them logging onto the crisis system as the scenario played out.
Other partners were also involved in responding, asking questions and observing how Ark and Crown Services, which they have trusted with their business critical servers, worked to ensure a smooth handling of the crisis scenario.
While crisis can be an uncomfortable word for some organisations, by taking part in this exercise, Ark and Crown Hosting showed it was prepared to stare into the uncomfortable reaches of probability.
As Crown Services CEO Stephen Hall says: “All modern-day businesses should have a crisis plan. Unfortunately, many of those who do, leave them on the shelf gathering dust.
“We like to do things differently, even if it means contemplating difficult scenarios.
“Most plans go out of the window in the heat of battle so you need people to be prepared and practiced in what they are doing.
“That is the whole point of the exercise – we test ourselves, how we react and what we do, just in case.
“And it isn’t a one-off – we believe this time is more than worth investing in and we are more than happy to include both existing clients and potential ones, as well as the wider business community, showing confidence in our capabilities to deal with even the most unlikely events.”
Therefore, the question you need to answer is not only whether you are ready for a crisis, but is your data centre provider?