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The Day After Tomorrow: Communication in Times of Crisis

Business Continuity for collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Hangouts and Slack

Business Continuity for Collaboration Tools
Managed Services

Catastrophic scenarios such as extreme climate events, epidemics or armed conflicts exert a great fascination on us - not least because of this, films such as "The Day After Tomorrow" are very popular in the cinema and streaming program.

Disaster Management of IT: Disaster Recovery

Employees and decision-makers in the IT area should also be prepared for emergencies: In my experience from countless discussions with customers, the management of IT risks is becoming an increasingly important part of day-to-day business. It's a good thing that many regular tasks - especially in the area of infrastructure - are now handled by cloud providers.

Hyperscalers also offer comprehensive concepts for disaster recovery, which are used depending on the security needs of the company: Highly available SAP systems or globally distributed databases are now as normal as home offices in times of pandemics.

Underestimated Risk: Failure of Teams, Zoom, Hangouts or Slack

In this article, I would like to address a previously underestimated risk that is not considered in many business continuity plans:

What happens when Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Hangeouts or Slack are not available?

Covid19 is one of the reasons why almost all corporate communications have migrated to one of these new collaboration tools. After the discontinuation of Skype for Business, many companies now even make calls exclusively via Microsoft Teams.

So what happens when Teams is gone? How do I reach my employees then? The most obvious thing, of course, would be to send them an email. But what do you do if there's a global disruption at Microsoft and sending emails via Office 365 resources is also disrupted? How do you reach your employees in the age of Corona and widespread home offices? Many IT leaders are stumped by this simple question. Certainly, the likelihood of this disaster scenario occurring is minimal. But when it does occur, companies can't even inform their employees about the extent of the disruption.

Backup For Communication and Collaboration Solutions

A solution is easy to implement and can be operated on a standby basis for just a few euros. The technology used is irrelevant: The spectrum of solutions ranges from a collaboration area in the intranet (if this is not also based on SharePoint Online) to an alternative collaboration tool such as Rocket Chat.

Many companies used Rocket Chat for a long time as an "on premises clone" to Slack & Co. However, due to the lightning spread of these cloud tools, Rocket Chat quickly lost its importance during the pandemic.

To get to grips with the issue of communication in times of crisis in a cost-effective manner, Rocket Chat represents a very simple option: In the app stores of the hyperscalers, prefabricated images can be booted up and used on an hourly basis. Ideally, a different hyperscaler should be selected than the one on which the standard collaboration solution is running. Safe is safe! Such a backup system for communications in the event of a disaster can be quickly configured and made operational by an IT department. Rocket Chat can also be deployed without permanent overhead via single sign-on and automatic software distribution capabilities.

Business Continuity Plan: Employees as a Success Factor

In addition, it is particularly important to make the solution part of a business continuity plan that all employees are aware of. This is where I see the greatest challenge, because in the event of a disaster, who will remember an e-mail that came from IT years ago? In this respect, in addition to setting up technical solutions, the topic of crisis communication must be manifested among employees. Ideally, in an emergency, the employee will reach for the backup communication solution just as they would for the fire extinguisher if there were a fire.

In my opinion, this cannot be started early enough: The ideal day for this is "The Day before Tomorrow" - in other words, today. I wish you every success in mastering this risk.

Managed Services

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Disaster Recovery in the Cloud

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Digital Workplace

Our solutions with Microsoft Office 365 for the ideal workplace of the future.

Written by

Markus Krenn
Expert for SAP on Azure