Fortress Recovery Centre Launch

The launch of the new Fortress Crossharbour Recovery Centre was a well attended affair with a good mix of industry veterans and new comers to Business Continuity (BC).

The content of the event was presented by Paul Barry-Walsh, Mike Osborne and Andrew Lawton.

Paul founded Safetynet in 1985 and grew it to be one of the largest BC companies in the UK, before selling to Guardian dr in 2000. The merged company went on to form the basis of SunGard’s European business.

Paul, now Fortress Chairman, covered the early “wild west” days of BC when the services and processes of the industry were being developed and refined. He explained some of the early drivers, the development of the solutions and the major events, such as the IRA bombings of London in the early 90’s which instilled a dynamism in the BC industry and pushed BC to become a part of business good practice.

Mike Osborne, who had over this time lead ICM Team, then Phoenix and finally Daisy’s BC businesses took the story on from 2000 and the development of the structure and compliance within the industry. He explained how the Turnbull report, the development of BC standards (PAS 56, BS25999 and ISO22301) and the formation of the FSA firmly put BC into boardroom conversations about risk.

It was through the 2000’s that the industry consolidated down from 10’s to a handful of BC service providers and consequently innovation slowed.

The technology supporting our work environment certainly continued to change through this period, however, and as a result the way we work changed enormously. There was now great flexibility in where we worked and the ways in which we collaborated. Our offices became more pleasant places to be with more relaxed atmosphere.


Modern Business Continuity

Andrew Lawton, Founder and CEO of Fortress, brought us up to date and looked into the future of BC.

Andrew related the market consultation exercise that he undertook through 2016 in which he spoke to 200 businesses in central London to discover what they really needed from BC service provider.

He found that 2017/18 were big years for review. Many organisations are reviewing their BC provision in the light of changes in the way their staff work. They are sending more people home at the time of disaster and so their requirements have reduced.

Many now work from home but having encouraged staff to work from home for cost reasons, some of the most technically advanced companies, including those providing remote collaboration tools (e.g. Google, Yahoo, Microsoft), are spending huge sums to encourage their staff back into the office.

They are doing this because it is clear that staff are more creative and make faster and better decisions when working physically together.

So, companies are also realising that particularly at time of crisis the Crisis Management team and core business functions should be physically together to ensure the most efficient and effective response to the event.

The BC provision focus is now on the Crisis Management Team and the core business functions, which often translates to approximately 10% of the workforce.

Andrew found that, contrary to the earlier years, the quality of the work area recovery environment is now important. If businesses are going to pay for work area to get staff together they wanted it to reflect their day to day offices. They wanted staff at the recovery centre to be concerned with the recovery of the business and not complaining about the lack of natural light, the non-existent wifi or the terrible coffee.

The old recovery centres, built in the 90’s and early 2000’s in keeping with the style of offices of the day, no longer reflected the needs of modern employees.


The Crossharbour Recovery Centre

So Fortress was formed, to provide a modern form of BC, in newly designed and built, bright flexibly offices that current staff would be happy to work in. The Crossharbour Recovery Centre is the first of the Fortress centres designed to replicate a modern office with all of the amenities that you would expect in this environment, including the hard to find good wifi and good coffee.

The infrastructure underpinning the offices also needed to deliver the structure and security equivalent to their day to day offices. The physical and logical security must also be there or again, they may as well work from home or a local coffee shop.

Finally, businesses were complaining about a lack of flexibility from current providers and difficulty in communicating with them and getting changes made. There were a number of anecdotes of times in test or invocation when configuration changes needed to be made which could only be done by emailing a ticketing system, which fed tickets to a Service Centre in India, that decided who to get to make the change, and sent an email to the recovery technician that had been standing beside them the whole time.

Andrew explained that Fortress had been borne out of listening to customers and that listening and adapting would continue to be an underpinning tenet of the way the organisation would continue.

The attendees had tours of the new work area recovery centre and associated data centre.

Many stayed on for a couple of hours, enjoying the food and drink, discussing the current state of the BC industry.

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