If British Airways’ IT can go down – so can yours!

Think Cirrus/BA IT Meltdown/aircraft

The catastrophic IT meltdown which caused chaos for thousands of passengers across the bank holiday wasn’t the first-time British Airways had technical issues this year. Which begs the question – they could have seen it coming and put prevention tactics in place? Right? …In this article, we’ll look at what could go wrong in your business – we want you to think differently about your IT.

Reported amongst the trade and wider press, British Airways shook up their I.T. department in a bid to save on staffing costs. They have now been branded as ‘greedy’ – experts say that if they hadn’t made internal I.T. staff redundant then the damaging crash may not have happened. Well – we’ll never really know.

Regardless of what is to blame, the cost of the bank holiday weekend outage is likely to be more than £100m. Independent aviation analyst Howard Wheeldon even suggested that the bill could be close to £250m, when compensation claims are considered.

British Airways was forced to cancel all flights out of Heathrow and Gatwick airports in London on Saturday following what it described as a “global systems outage”.

This IT disaster just shows that if a global business such as British Airways can’t avoid such a catastrophe – then, potentially your business could go through such trauma too.

What lessons have we learnt from BA’s I.T. blip? Here we’ll point out the top lessons learnt:

1. Disaster Recovery Plan – If you fail to prepare for the worst, prepare to fail.

The importance of a disaster recovery plan cannot be overstated. Regardless of industry, when an unforeseen event takes place and brings day-to-day operations to a halt, your business needs to recover as quickly as possible and continue to provide services to your clients. From data security breaches to natural disasters, you must put a plan in place in case of a catastrophe. Not having a disaster recovery plan in place can put the organisation at risk of high financial costs, reputation loss and even greater risks for its clients and customers.

Disaster recovery forms a big part of a company’s business continuity plan. While business continuity sets out controls to keep all aspects of business functioning when a disaster hits, disaster recovery primarily focuses on IT and its systems that support business functions in the case of a disaster.

The importance of disaster recovery is becoming more and more of a top agenda point for Chief Executives and Business Owners, as we continue to depend on computer systems.

Systems and networks are becoming ever more complex, meaning more and more things can go wrong. Over a decade ago, if there was a threat to a system, a disaster recovery plan may include powering down the mainframe and other computers. Current systems tend to be too complicated to have more of a hands-on approach.

It has been reported that many large companies spend between 2% to 4% of their IT budget on disaster recover planning. It is also not unusual for a company to spend up to 25% of their IT budget. The plan is to minimise the risk of significant loss to infrastructure. Lack of preparation can lead to significant monies and time being spent on repair.

However – if you don’t have those sorts of budgets to contend with, then there are other options. Traditional Disaster Recovery solutions are very expensive and quite often require duplication of pricey hardware that in an ideal world would never be required.

Find out more about a robust and cost effective backup solution. One of our specialists can help you understand the solution including the costs to your business:


2. Outsourcing doesn’t have to be a negative decision – choose wisely and you’ll be better off.

As the owner of a small company, you have probably entertained the thought of outsourcing some aspect of your business. The benefits of outsourcing seem obvious, touted by experts across numerous industries as the answer to cutting costs for business functions ranging from information technology to accounting, marketing and human resources; it seems possible that you could run an entire company without ever hiring a single employee.

Just think – you may have someone in your office that is ok with computers, but is most likely fixing I.T. issues that isn’t on the job description. If they are spending time taking care of these things, who is doing what they were hired to do? Outsourcing allows you to retain employees for their highest and best use, rather than wasting their time on things that may take them longer than someone who is trained in these specific areas.

We also think that outsourcing can improve company focus. It is neither practical, nor possible to be a jack of all trades. Outsourcing lets you focus on your core competencies while another company focuses on theirs.

Outsourcing also helps you to reduce risk – keeping up with technology required to run your business is expensive and time consuming… just think about it – you know it makes sense. Because professional outsourced IT providers work with multiple clients and need to keep up on industry best practices, they typically know what is right and what is not. This kind of knowledge and experience dramatically reduces your risk of implementing a costly wrong decision. See – it’s not all doom and gloom!

And any associated risks such as loss of control or confidentiality of data and disaster recovery – so if you have an IT representative in your business who knows what they are doing or you source a company that is open and honest – you can avoid any costly or business damaging risks.

We know there is a lot to think about, so whether you choose to outsource or hire internally, one thing is certain, you must know how to manage successful working relationships with your IT service providers.

Let’s face it, we know that we’re not always the easiest people in the world to understand and deal with, right? Here are some tips:
• Clearly form and communicate the goals and objectives of your project or business relationship.
• Have a strategic vision and plan for your project or relationship.
• Select the right partner or new hire through research and references.
• Insist on a contract or plan that includes all the expectations of the relationship, especially the financial aspect.
• Keep open communication with all affected individuals/groups.
• Rally support and involvement from decision makers involved.

3. Analyse your technical faults to protect future events.
As the saying goes ‘It’s easy in hindsight’. Guess what, it really is. Whenever you have an IT related problem, a process of improvement should always take place once you have recovered from the immediate event. You should ask the basic questions; what happened; why; what could be done to prevent it from happening again? And, of course the size of the investigation should match the risk involved – however the investigative process and conversations need to be strictly followed. Doing this ensures you reduce the risk of the same issue affecting your business.

And, of course the more likely the issue or the bigger the risk (In BA’s case the $100M+ bill) the bigger and more robust the improvement process should be.

So, it’s not all about technology, the major failing for British Airways is the lack of a robust and suitable process. The lack of an instruction manual that says in the event of a disaster like this here’s what we do! Technology can do so much but the human element of learning, analysis and improvement as still very much within our power

4. Back up or lose it all
Have you nearly lost everything? We know that feeling and it’s stressful. We’re here to eliminate that from happening again. We’re the super heroes of backing up your I.T. and documents.

In today’s fast-paced world, backing up your files is of the utmost importance. Typically music, movies, films, data files, projects, and photos are all stored in one place – your computer. Laptops and desktops have decreased in cost, and the amount of storage inside them has increased greatly over the last few years. Unfortunately having all of your data in only one place is dangerous.

The simplest definition of a computer backup is an exact copy. In the case of computer files, we are referring to copies of the original files that you have on your laptop, desktop, or external drive. Creating a backup of original content means having that data saved in two places, but it’s also important to make sure that those two places aren’t on the same type of device. For example, if you have 3 copies of a working document on your computer, if your computer crashes, you will still lose all three. This makes the backup method and medium, an important thing to consider for your backup strategy!

Computer loss, theft, natural disaster, and accidental deletion, are just some of the ways that you can lose the data you’ve spent so long creating and accumulating. The only way to prepare for the unexpected is to have a good backup strategy in place. There are many different ways to backup your computers, and using multiple forms of backup will minimize the risk of ever losing your valuable files.

As we’ve already said – There are a number of back up options – but we can take care of that. Whether you want to use the cloud or not, we’ll advise you on the best solution for you.
Think Cirrus has a simple and reliable cloud based system to store and replicate your company’s information.
Do you still use tapes? Let us help you with an easier solution…
If you’re one many of the businesses using tapes to back up your data, let us tell you about another solution…


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