29 August 2005

Katrina: Category 4 Storm Blasts U.S....

Now that Hurricane Katrina has made landfall for the second time in the U.S., we are reminded of several important operational risk management topics.

If a third party service provider is being considered for the provision of critical information processing services, the organization requires outsourcing service providers to develop and establish a disaster recovery framework, which defines its role and responsibilities for documenting, maintaining and testing its contingency plans and recovery procedures. The vendor must review, update and test its business continuity plans regularly in accordance with changing technologies, conditions and operation requirements.

The organization must also be prepared for worst-case scenarios for service interruptions when a service provider is unable to continue operations or render the services required. The organization's business continuity plans must include additional vendors or in-house recovery procedures to resume information processing. Arrangements must be made to ensure continued availability of the information service in the event the third party service provider is unable to perform under their contract obligations.

Katrina's fury also was felt at the Louisiana Superdome, normally home of professional football's Saints, which became the shelter of last resort for about 9,000 of the area's poor, homeless and frail.

Electrical power at the Superdome failed at 5:02 a.m., triggering groans from the crowd. Emergency generators kicked in, but the backup power runs only reduced lighting and cannot run the air conditioning.

About 370,000 customers in southeast Louisiana were estimated to be without power, said Chenel Lagarde, spokesman for Entergy Corp., the main energy power company in the region.

Hibernia Bank, who is merging with Capital One and is in the path of Katrina has this to say about their BCCM operations:

Elevated back-up generators are in place to support the company's central processing operations in New Orleans in the event of a power outage in the city. Hibernia's operations centers in Houston and Shreveport are ready to serve as data back-up sites. In addition to providing contingency-planning support for the New Orleans center, the Houston center supports Hibernia's Texas operations.

"We constantly monitor the hurricane's track and communicate with emergency officials," said Herb Boydstun, president and CEO. "We have mobilized our people across Louisiana and in Texas to respond to storm-related issues."

Boydstun pointed out that Hibernia has comprehensive contingency plans designed to minimize disruption of service to its customers and to resume operations as soon as possible.

Employees are trained to transfer and recover systems, data and other vital components quickly. In Shreveport, the company has computers with redundant systems that can be activated in case of a New Orleans power outage. Hibernia maintains additional space in the Shreveport area that can quickly be converted to a technology center to support operations routed from New Orleans.

We wish them and all others in the New Orleans, LA and Biloxi areas Gods speed during these difficult days ahead.

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