Published on November 23, 2023, 6:38 am

The recent outage experienced by an Australian telecommunications company serves as a valuable lesson in resiliency and disaster recovery for IT leaders. The incident, which led to the resignation of the CEO, highlights the importance of having solid plans in place to mitigate risks and minimize fallout.

During a Senate inquiry, it was revealed that the telco did not have a specific plan for dealing with such a large-scale outage. It was also disclosed that even the CEO herself carried spare SIM cards from rival companies as a contingency measure. This incident emphasizes the need for IT leaders to reassess their strategies and ensure they have effective disaster recovery plans in place.

While this outage was highly publicized, similar incidents occur frequently across various organizations, often with increasing costs. Therefore, CIOs need to go beyond simply managing IT systems and prioritize foresight and strategic planning. They must take this opportunity to strengthen their defenses and enhance response capabilities when things go wrong.

One of the key lessons from this outage is the importance of thoroughly testing updates before rolling them out across networks. It’s crucial to identify errors and vulnerabilities within internal systems to prevent any cascading effects that could lead to widespread network failures. Additionally, having redundancy measures in place can help address problems efficiently.

IT leaders should map their company’s infrastructure, segment services, identify weak points, and stress-test these areas to understand system vulnerabilities better. While it may be challenging, knowing where single points of failure exist allows CIOs to make informed decisions about priorities and budget allocations.

Preparing for outages should also involve developing business continuity plans that include alternative methods of communication and operation. This can range from shifting to paper-based systems during disruptions or ensuring executives have dual SIM phones for seamless network switching.

Disaster recovery discussions need to involve key stakeholders such as CFOs and CEOs in order to assess the risks involved in being offline or losing customer trust. Understanding third-party vendor risks is also essential when managing digital infrastructure services.

Notably, these headline-grabbing incidents provide an opportunity for IT leaders to build a case for IT modernization. Legacy technology issues often contribute to outages, making the updating of systems crucial for security and resiliency at scale.

CIOs must prioritize efforts based on criticality and urgency. It’s essential to identify the largest gaps in the system and consider long-term refresh plans. Effective communication during outages is another critical component of a comprehensive strategy. Clear and concise communication with customers, up the chain of command to the CEO and outward to the public, helps manage expectations regarding downtime and restoration.

In conclusion, organizations must continuously assess their disaster recovery plans and collaborate with industry peers to address potential network stress and security threats. By prioritizing resiliency measures, maintaining good vendor relationships, assessing risks proactively, and developing communication strategies, IT leaders can navigate challenges such as outages more effectively while ensuring business continuity.

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