International Disaster Recovery Planning Disparities

If you’re involved in disaster recovery planning at an international level, you may well find disparities in the different country branches of your organisation. Differences can arise in a number of ways. They can range from simple lack of knowledge of what disaster recovery is or should be, through time lags where different countries are at different stages of advancement, to government policies that run the gamut from laissez-faire to strict legislation. The following snippets of information and observations from different continents provide a demonstration.

First of all, who’s furthest ahead? If there is one sector in one country that’s been at the forefront of disaster recovery planning, it’s the financial sector in the United States. Other countries like the UK have often used the US financial sector as a benchmark for DR planning, while recognising that they had ground to make up to get to the same standard. In other countries such as Malaysia, the problem of lack of experience and planning has been compounded by the rapid pace of adoption of technology. This makes it even harder for good disaster recovery planning to be implemented, because of the need to “jump onto a moving train”.

Legal requirements, where they exist, can help to bring different parts of an organisation up to speed. Where they don’t exist or are insufficient, other approaches are necessary. In Australia, major banks have been “encouraged” by the Reserve Bank to implement duplicate processing sites. One solution is mutual disaster back-up arrangements between banks, something also done between some government agencies. More generally, country organisations may only react when pressured by auditors, vendors, insurance companies and/or overseas headquarters. If you are responsible for any aspects of international disaster recovery planning for your organisation, these may be useful levers to get any recalcitrant branches to take action.