Disaster Recovery Plans and the “New Normal”

Disaster recovery plans need to take account of changes. Regular reviews of changes in a company’s operations and dependencies, and developments in DR tools are all part of DR planning. What was true twelve months ago may have changed significantly by now and projected responses to disaster situations need to be updated accordingly. However, until now the whole “macro” environment around a company often appeared rather stable. Once the principal risks were assessed, there was often little call to revisit the analysis. Some organisations however have been getting to grips with apparently significant changes in the macro context that affects them – in other words, a “new normal”.

As an example, following earthquake tremors of a year ago that were felt on the east coast of the US, organisations are updating their disaster recovery plans to include planned responses to earthquakes. Schools in Virginia, where the tremors caused substantial damage, now have earthquake drills as regularly as fire drills. In another “disaster dimension”, companies relying on suppliers in regions that could be hit by natural disasters are questioning the recently accepted wisdom of offshoring. The “new normal” may turn out to be a contraction of supply lines to increase local activity at the expense of the global one.

The question is – when can the new normal really be confirmed? The scientific jury is still deliberating about the probability of further tremors affecting the east coast of America, and Virginia in particular. The case against is based largely on the fact that no new big tremors have been felt. On the other hand the case for declaring a “new normal” is based on scientific modelling that shows Virginia as being at the centre of seismic activity, and that the east coast tremor of a year ago was the one felt by the most people in the country out of all tremors recorded anywhere in the US. It sounds like disaster recovery plans will need to stay flexible to accommodate developments either way.