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Business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) plans define how an organization will prepare and recover from a disruptive event, whether an event might be a natural disaster such as a flood or a fire or simply a power outage.

Business continuity plan defines how the organization will continue to operate or “make money” after a contingency and the disaster recovery plan defines the processes by which you resume regular business activities following the event. It is a common practice to join both terms under the acronym BC/DR.

BC/DR plan requires the involvement of management, business leaders and IT leaders to determine what kind of plan is necessary and which systems and business units are most crucial to the organization. The plan should consider people, processes, logistics, systems and communications.

Besides resuming normal operations after an event, which should be the aim of BC/DR, it is important to anticipate how long it will take, how much it will cost and what processes and activities will be performed during the recovery phase.

Protecting and recovering data and information systems is a critical aspect of a BC/DR plan for most organizations. It is not enough to have a backup plan or tool. Have you tested a recovery or simulated a cold start? Are you backing up all your assets, including workstations, laptops and mobile devices? Will you be able to restore your data and applications in a different hardware? How long will it take to restore? These are just few sample questions that should be addressed while preparing the plan.

It is recommended to update and test the BC/DR plan on a semi-annual basis because of the constant evolution of technology and changes in regulations and processes.

At Apex Academic Technologies we have experience in designing, testing and implementing BC/DR plans understanding the needs and challenges of medium and small business.

Francisco Disilvestro
Apex Academic Technologies
Director
03 8692 0004

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Businesses across many industries are adopting cloud computing solutions for their applications and systems, regardless of their size. Does it apply also for an RTO? It certainly does and should be considered as a valid candidate when defining the IT Strategy or embracing a new system implementation or upgrade project.

The term cloud computing is very broad and it is used to refer to any IT service or infrastructure outside your premises. There are multiple vendors in this area with different approaches, technologies and strategies that must be considered in detail before selecting the best option for your organization.

What is the vendor really offering? Where is it located? How easy is to move out if things don't work well? Do they (service provider) have access to your data? How financially stable is the vendor? This is just a small sample of the questions that must be addressed before committing to a cloud solution. Your organization's data is an important asset and your core business processes likely depend on software and applications. It is important to work with a trusted supplier that ensures you keep control over IT.

Among the benefits of moving to the cloud is that your data infrastructure becomes an operational expense (OPEX) instead of a capital expense (CAPEX) with both financial and fiscal impacts. From the technology side, you could have access to services and tools that could give tangible benefits and competitive advantages to your organization, which would be otherwise too expensive for medium and small business.

There are drawbacks and risks too that you should consider. One of the major factors impacting overall performance when you move to the cloud is your network speed, especially if you are using a standard consumer grade Internet connection. For most applications, a regular cable or ADSL connection will suffice.

Should you just move everything to the cloud? Not necessarily, or at least not all at once. You could start with a low risk project and learn along the way.

At Apex Academic Technologies we have experience in data centre architecture and cloud migration, understanding the needs and challenges of medium and small business.

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Training organisations collect sensitive personal and financial information from the students for their business operation and for reporting purposes, as in the case of AVETMISS. Financial data may include Bank account information or credit card numbers, used for one time or recurring payments.

How secure are your data repositories and databases from unauthorized access? Can you detect an intrusion attempt? Who has access to sensitive information? What could be the impact for your business if you experience data breaches? These are some of the questions that should be asked by any organization. The answers to these questions will help establish an action plan to improve the data security level.

Unfortunately, there is no end for this race. Security measures and tools evolve and improve continuously driven by the ever growing hacking activity at a global scale and the increased risk exposure by offering online access to the services provided by the organisation. It is not possible to reach a status where there is nothing else to be done. There is not such a thing as perfect security.

Another important reason to be concerned with Data Security and Privacy is the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012 (“Amendment Act”), which increases significantly the obligations for private business and government agencies that collect or deal with personal information in Australia from 12 March 2014.

In our experience, most organisations do not know they are subject to continuous attempts to gain unauthorized access to their data and do not even have a way to identify a successful intrusion to their systems by an external entity.

It is highly recommended to have a Data Security strategy in place and know the existing risks and vulnerabilities in your systems. A final suggestion: keep always a low profile on security matters. Publicising about your good level of security usually turns into an invitation to hackers for the challenge of it. 

Francisco DiSilvestro
Director
Apex Academic technologies
Tel 03 8692 0004

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