Published in Payroll World, May 2011
Ensure your hardware and software can cope in the event of disaster, writes Karen Paterson.
Last month Payroll World explored what happens to payrolls when disaster strikes. The recent earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand highlight the importance of disaster recovery. A sound contingency plan will increase your client’s and manager’s confidence in your ability to cope with such an occurrence. But robust business continuity means there is no single point of failure. This is not just IT related but includes premises, people, location, telecommunications, internet access, hardware, software, power and hosting.
Data centres and areas holding hardware should be climate-controlled, have generator power backup supply and substantial uninterruptible power supply, multiple telecommunications, powerlines and internet service providers available. In this sense, hosting in your own building can be a risk. It is far better to use a professional data centre that has invested in all the essential infrastructure and security. Software installations (including databases) should always be co-located as a complete replication between live and disaster recovery, and preferably on separate internet backbones and in a different country.
Cloud technology has made this much easier as virtual instances of enterprise applications can be deployed and replicated easily. The elastic cloud means that resources can be turned on when needed, lowering the cost of ownership and robust disaster recovery considerably. Using an application over the internet reduces the risk of losing an application if there is a fire or other damage to premises, enabling staff to work remotely.
If your vendor is using multiple subcontracted vendors around the world, software and hardware in every location must have the same robust approach to disaster recovery.
It is often useful to get your vendor to complete an extensive questionnaire covering these points.