Ebola outbreak underlines need for disaster recovery

Ebola outbreak underlines need for disaster recovery

The Ebola outbreak in west Africa has left over 2,000 dead and many others fighting the terrible virus. 

An international health emergency has been called by the World Health Organization as the global community seeks to come together and establish an efficient and lasting reply to fight the disease.  

Initial symptoms include fever, intense weakness, muscle pain and a sore throat, but this quickly progresses to vomiting, diarrhoea and internal and external bleeding if it is not treated successfully. It has a case fatality rate of up to 90 per cent. 

British Ebola sufferer William Pooley recently received the experimental drug ZMapp as part of his recovery, while a number of other aid workers from the West have contracted the virus.  

The Commons International Development Committee has been critical of the response so far, as it thinks that a lack of coordination has meant emergency plans have not been as successful as they could have been. 

As a result, it is calling on the Department for International Development to use the medical and managerial expertise of the NHS to help deliver more effective treatment options. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has also announced a $50 million (£31 million) funding commitment to aid the emergency support.

Why is disaster recovery important?

What the spread of the virus underlines, however, is the requirement for an efficient disaster recovery plan, especially for companies that work in developing countries. 

If firms do not have continuity plans in place, their business is going to suffer in the case of an international event such as the Ebola outbreak. For example, a business impact analysis demonstrates how a shutdown will affect a company financially, identify any preventative steps that can be put in place and develop an effective recovery strategy. 

While the Ebola crisis is unlikely to create many problems with regards to hardware and software, an epidemic illness does lead to serious issues in terms of staffing. The loss of key personnel through sickness is a scenario that has to be planned for.

How can businesses minimise the Ebola threat?

Of course, technology offers businesses the chance to minimise their risk exposure. If companies conduct all but essential communication through conference calling, they can stay out of areas that might be under threat. This option is also cheaper and more environmentally-friendly.

Conference calling also gives firms a greater degree of flexibility in terms of how they organise their operations. For example, they can set up and take part in business conversations with their partners within the hour, as there is no need for lengthy journeys to and from offices in different countries.

As viruses like Ebola spread through human contact, being able to build business relationships with clients in the developing world through remote technology obviously limits their risk considerably. 

So for a more efficient and safer way of doing business, companies should really consider the benefits of conferencing technology, both in the short term after a problem develops and in the long term in order to avoid suffering financial ruin.