There is a distinct line between being confident and being presumptive. The problem with presumption is it often presents itself as certainty but is a misguided sense of confidence that can blind us to reality.
Confidence, however, is earned through real preparation and hard work by evaluating a situation and accurately determine what is needed to achieve the desired outcome. Presumption assumes the desired outcome is going to happen, regardless of the effort, and therefore overlooks the idea that undesirable outcomes could occur.
In the practice of Business Continuity, the ultimate foe is presumption. That might seem like a silly statement, but it is true. Earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods can all be prepared for in advance. Presumption prevents any form of preparation be taken in the first place.
And the worst part is that at some point we are all a little bit presumptive. That is just human nature. You probably learned that the earth completes one rotation on its axis every 24 hours, and so you are confident that there will be a sunrise tomorrow. Yet how would you know if someone just presumed that there will be a sunrise tomorrow? Would you blame them for just presuming that the sun would be there, just like it has been for their entire life? We are creatures of habit with brains built to discover and analyze patterns. Presumptions are one of the ways we deal with everyday life.
They Presumed That The Titanic Was “Unsinkable”
The White Star Line promoted their new luxury passenger liner the RMS Titanic as being “unsinkable” as part of a campaign to promote ticket sales for the ship’s maiden voyage. That same claim of the ship being unsinkable was then used again, but this time it was used against the White Star Line as the press dug deeper into the details of what caused the Titanic to sink on April 15th, 1912.
While there is certainly no excuse that would justify the negligent decisions of the White Star Line that resulted in a tragedy that claimed the lives of over 1,500 people, if we look at this incident before the tragedy took place, we can start to understand why some presumed that the Titanic was unsinkable. The ship was designed to have 16 nearly watertight hull compartments connected via a system of doors that could, in theory, be sealed shut with a single switch. It was just assumed that such a massive ship could not possibly have enough of the hull compartments breached to cause it to sink. The design allowed for up to 4 compartments to fail.
The iceberg ruptured 6 compartments. The Titanic sank, and there were not enough lifeboats aboard to save all of the passengers and crew. The presumption of unsinkable was proven false in the most horrific way.
Okay, But What Does This Have To Do With IT & Business Continuity?
When was the last time that you tested your backups? When was the last time you completed a disaster recovery exercise? If your production data is stored on an array, in the cloud or through a distributed storage solution there is an “iceberg” out there that can wipe it out. Maybe your organization will be targeted by ransomware. Maybe a natural disaster will strike near your datacenter and disrupt all operations. Maybe simple human error will wipe out everything.
Do you want to wait for an iceberg to hit first before realizing you don’t have enough lifeboats?
If you are not currently testing your backups, performing DR exercises or validating your BC plan then you are not operating with confidence. You are operating under a presumption that your contingency plan will work. There is no substitute for actual practice.
But The Titanic Sinking Happened Over 100 Years Ago!
Yes, and Texas was without power for weeks at the beginning of 2021. I, like many, presumed that a state known for its energy resources would never experience a blackout of such magnitude and duration. That was my presumption, and I was wrong, but the experts predicted that severe cold would disrupt the power grid. The experts were operating with confidence when they warned others, and recommended winterizing essential equipment.
Don’t rest on the presumption that your backups are good. Consistently validate that your DR solution will operate as expected. If you do not know how to take on these tasks, or if you would like to learn about the many solutions available to help you protect your organization, partner with a professional who can help.
Sayers offers a holistic approach to Business Continuity. We have the technical expertise to validate your solutions and the industry experience to support a greater level of preparedness, allowing you to operate with confidence.
We know the “icebergs” are still out there and no one should be without a lifeboat.