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Constructing a business continuity plan

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Construction projects will continue to be built if Cianbro’s IT systems and applications are down, however, Cianbro team members have come to expect IT systems to be available at all times…because projects operate at all hours of the day, every day of the week. Addressing the company’s inefficient disaster recovery plan was one of CIO Russ Rodrigue’s top priorities when he first arrived at the construction services firm five years ago.

Day-to-day operations of a company that builds everything from bridges to civic centers, wind turbines and power stations or servicing of petro-chemical plants nationwide do not always have high speed internet services; thus work is often conducted on cell phones and air cards.

Russ Rodrigue, CIO, Cianbro

So the challenge was to design a business continuity system that could function in low bandwidth situations.

Following an internal assessment to identify gaps, Rodrigue presented his team’s findings to the board of directors and shortly thereafter began fast-tracking an Enterprise Architecture Process that focused around a business impact analysis, including: licensing information, vendor support data, criticality ratings, infrastructure details, application roadmap data, user characteristics, and dozens of categories to help determine recovery and continuity priorities.

Three primary groupings were established that categorized applications with either a four-hour SLA, 24 hour recovery period and a third category defined as “best effort.” With over 180 applications and systems, it was important for IT to have a plan on how to recover or continue services that were critical for operations.

“Our logic was that we couldn’t recover everything all at once, given the services, facilities and technologies used at that time, so we determined which systems were mission critical and focused our attention there.” Rodrigue said.

The company’s ERP, portal applications, document imaging, bidding, email, and VoIP phone systems – proved top priorities. The business operations could be sustained by recovering these core services and applications in the event of a disaster, but to be fully operational would require additional planning, funding and newer technologies.

Phase two of the company’s disaster recovery plan kicks off next month, and the company looks to be leaning toward the cloud.

Cianbro’s secondary data center is currently beyond capacity. Additionally, a river, train tracks and natural gas filling station pose additional risk and exposure, but Rodrigue’s team has virtualized a majority of their servers, replicated data to alternate locations and have begun creating mobile applications to reduce the company’s risk in the event of a natural disaster.

“Our remaining challenges are the efficiency of moving all data between our primary and secondary data centers and application availability for lower priority systems, not just business critical. Finally, we will continue our focus on business continuity activities aimed at the workforce and facilities.”

Orlando | April 3 — 5, 2016

San Antonio | October 23 — 25, 2016

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