IT Business Continuity Test – January 2016 – FAQs

All IT services will be at risk of disruption on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 January while we conduct an IT business continuity test.

What will this affect?

The work requires us to test all University IT infrastructure over that weekend. This means students and staff will not be able to access networked drives, blackboard, email, calendars and timetables and services such as Turn-it in, Core Portal, E5, SI and the Library Management system. There will need to be alternative arrangements made for entry and security systems as it will affect building management systems, Millennium and access control. The external website will also be unavailable as will the staff intranet.

Why is this necessary?

The University is dependent on IT for its day-to-day effective running. Threats to our IT infrastructure and systems are numerous and malicious attacks are more becoming more sustained, increasingly sophisticated and potentially more destructive. A critical incident which interrupted IT Services might damage the reputation of the University and compromise its ability to recruit. It could also affect the student experience. We need to test how we could support the University through such an incident and assess how to minimise any data loss and have the most business critical systems back up and running as soon as possible. We also need to identify any weaknesses which might cause problems in the coming year.

Why have you chosen 2-3 January for this?

Because of the University’s heavy reliance on IT, testing the infrastructure, systems and services is disruptive. Following last year’s disaster recovery test, UEG has agreed that the best time to conduct business continuity work of this kind is during the normal Christmas closure period. This is now an annual event and it makes sense to do it at a time which will cause the least interruption to the normal running of the University.

What will it mean for me?

You will need to plan your work so that you don’t rely on any IT services over that weekend and make sure students are aware that they won’t be able to access IT services then either. Faculties were reminded of this back in May for work planning so there should be no assignment deadlines scheduled for this weekend. If there are deadlines shortly after that time you should make sure your students understand that they will not be able to use turn-it in, blackboard or email over the weekend of the test and should make allowances for that. If you have any activities happening that weekend which you can’t postpone or rearrange, you will need to let IS&T know by 27 November so that we can help you plan the mitigations.

Does this mean services are likely to be disrupted on Monday 4th January?

No, we realise that it is very important that everything is back up and running by Monday morning and are focussing on that. We will be taking a back-up of everything on the server on Friday evening and will restore everything as it was, ready for Monday morning. Because no one will have access to services over the weekend, nothing will have changed so everything can continue as normal.

What alternative arrangements can you make?

We will do our best to help you find alternative ways of providing services you need to offer which involve IT. If at all possible though, it is best to avoid relying on IT being available over that weekend.