PTC: Disaster Recovery
PTC + DR/BCP = ? PTC may render your disaster recovery procedures obsolete—if you have them in the first place.
he approaching deadline for Positive Train Control (PTC) implementation makes it imperative for railroads and related companies to update or prepare their Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plans (DR/BCP). In fact, PTC has significantly altered the architecture of railroad systems. Pre-PTC procedures and plans are no longer accurate and will not be sufficient to allow a railroad to recover from failures. The data requirements for PTC increase the potential impact of systems failures that were not previously considered mission-critical. When a PTC enforcement—train stoppage—occurs, it will result in major, quantifiable financial costs and negative publicity for the railroad. At railroads with DR/BCP based on legacy architecture, recovery time objectives and requirements must be reevaluated 26 Railway Age // May 2018
for PTC impact and plans updated to ensure appropriate response to failures of systems that provide input to PTC. If there has been insufficient focus on DR/BCP plan testing and maintenance, the recovery plans may be rendered out of date and useless at the very moment they are urgently needed. A national survey across industries showed that 40% or more of businesses lack a documented disaster recovery plan. Each of these businesses is taking a huge business risk—operational shutdown—every minute of every day. As an example of smart DR/BCP strategy, a CSX spokesperson said, “CSX is focused on a comprehensive approach to safety, business continuity and disaster recovery. Our system includes provisions for our customers, critical suppliers, and the communities in which we operate. Incorporating the people, processes, and technologies associated with PTC is a crucial part of
our effort.” At TTX, Bruce G. Schinelli, Vice President of Information Technology and CIO, said, “An effective and exercised DR plan is central to TTX’s risk mitigation strategy and allows us to deliver on our mission to provide low-cost, high-quality equipment to the rail industry, no matter the circumstances.” Planning for disasters is no different from planning for everyday issues and complications, and organizations can draw from established in-house expertise to build the needed plans. The goal is to achieve a robust understanding of the architecture and organization, where it might fail, and how to recover from those failures. This five-step process will help build DR/BCP materials at your organization: • Document Technical Architecture. The complete architecture of the organization must be understood for this process to railwayage.com
By Leah Schanely, Princeton Consultants