Utilizing Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning to Maximize New and Existing Infrastructure Use

The situation

The City of Akron sits along the Little Cuyahoga River. Akron is Ohio’s fifth largest city with a population approaching 200,000 people. Consistent with cities across the United States, the City of Akron, with a $500 million budget, faces daily challenges regarding how to maximize taxpayer investment to ensure responsible fiscal management with regard to transportation, technology and human resources infrastructure.

Outcome Summary

  • IT continuity operations plan generated momentum for IT department and committee to move on critical decisions for long-term viability
  • City of Akron leverages existing tax-payer investments to connect to Involta data center
  • Steps towards enhanced resiliency of the network and technology infrastructure

The Challenges

Planning for natural disaster

With the experiences of Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, and with damages from tornadoes and flash flooding on the rise, the public and private sectors were faced with the constant reminder that natural disasters can quickly impact the ability to deliver services. The City of Akron was no different.

The City needed to ensure that its applications and emergency systems would be operational in the case of a natural disaster or major utility or telecommunication outage. The City’s executive leadership and information technology department had identified that disaster preparedness for their critical application infrastructure was a priority.

Implementing a cost-effective solution

The project fell into the purview of Bill Fatica, Information Technology Manager for the City of Akron. Fatica’s department oversees the critical technology infrastructure, including financial, human resources, payroll and the police and fire applications.

The situation was complex. The City of Akron’s information technology department was responsible for implementing a cost-effective solution, agreeable to internal and external stakeholders, which also met the standards of the Ohio state auditors.

The Transition

Involta enlisted to provide an independent analysis

The City of Akron needed help to develop a robust business continuity and disaster recovery strategy. Bill Fatica and his information technology steering committee addressed the need by working with Involta. Fatica and City officials had come to know Involta through the company’s recent announcement to construct a concurrently maintainable data center in the City of Akron. Involta was enlisted to provide an independent analysis of the current state of the City of Akron’s hardware and connectivity infrastructure throughout the region.

The integrity and knowledge that Involta demonstrated through the project also prompted the City to evaluate Involta’s capabilities for a secondary site, as the company’s Akron Data Center was within close proximity to City-owned fiber infrastructure.

Involta delivered IT continuity of operations plan

Involta delivered an IT Continuity of Operations Plan that included:

  • Plan Introduction – Mission and Objectives, Scope, Business Continuity of Operations Planning Policy Statements, Roles and Responsibilities, Resource Requirements, Training Requirements, Exercise and Testing Schedule, Plan Maintenance Schedule, Frequency of Backups and Storage Media Schedules
  • Phases of Responses – Notification/Activation Phase, Notification Procedures, Damage Assessment, Plan Activation, Recovery Phase, Sequence of Recovery Activities, Recovery Procedures and Reconstitution Phase
  • Additional Deliverables – Glossary of Terms, Personnel Contact Information, Team Leader Tasks, Threat Identification, Risk Assessment, Business Impact Analysis and a Communication Plan to supplement the Business Continuity of Operations Plan

The Outcomes

Momentum to move on decisions

  • The IT continuity of operations plan generated momentum for the information technology department and committee to move on decisions that were critical to the City’s long-term viability.
  • The City of Akron, under the direction of the information technology committee, determined that a move of critical applications to a secondary, off-site location, dramatically enhanced the City’s ability to withstand a natural disaster or a telecommunication or utility interruption.

Connection to Involta data center

  • The proximity of the City’s fiber assets near the Involta data center allowed the City to leverage the tax-payer’s existing investment to connect to the facility.

Advocates and opportunities for resiliency

  • The plan created advocates for building resiliency into the City’s technology infrastructure.
  • The City of Akron continues to research opportunities to enhance the resiliency of the network and technology infrastructure currently being stored between the City and Involta-owned facilities.
  • Additional connectivity points to the Internet for redundancy and replication of critical applications in an active/active environment are a couple of measures being assessed.

Related Resources

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