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FCW : March 15, 2013
March 15, 2013 FCW.COM 29 Of cials at the Centers for Disease Control and Pre- vention are among those who are combining telework and COOP. "CDC is very actively engaged in teleworking, and we do use that as part of our business continuity," said Rodney Murray, CDC s deputy for technical operations. He said the agency uses the same basic infrastructure for COOP as it does for daily telework operations: Remote employees access email and other systems via virtual private networks (VPNs) in both situations. Such dual use helps agen- cies prepare for trouble, said Tom Simmons, area vice president for the U.S. pub- lic sector at Citrix Systems. He said employees with a high degree of familiarity with working remotely will maintain their productivity levels when events call for unscheduled telework. Routine use of telework, Simmons added, has "a very positive impact on the abil- ity to implement and effec- tively utilize a COOP plan." BYOD policies can also bolster COOP plans and reduce costs by substituting employee-owned for govern- ment-furnished equipment. Furthermore, BYOD can supplement telework pro- grams because a personal device can ll the gap if an employee needs to work remotely but has left a gov- ernment-supplied laptop at the of ce. Simmons said he has yet to nd an agency that identi es COOP upfront as a key objective of a telework or BYOD program. But that posi- tion changes when agencies start to consider the nancial implications of a mobility plan. "When we get to the point of doing the [return on investment] and cost justi cation...continuity of opera- tions absolutely is an important consideration as they look to justify cost and expand the validity of the use case," Simmons said. Justi cations for cloud investment, meanwhile, also cite COOP. INL s adoption of SaaS-based messaging and collaboration included business continuity as part of the business case, Stephens said. The story is similar at the Interior Department, which adopted Google Apps last year. "Business continuity and cost savings are a signi cant requirement and consideration as the Department of the Interior develops its IT acquisition plans," said Lawrence Gross, Interior s deputy CIO. He added that cloud-based solutions save money and provide an elasticity that is lacking in traditional IT pro- curement and deployment. "The elasticity offers the ability and flexibility to respond to a myriad of busi- ness continuity challenges," Gross said. The hurdles Among the pitfalls an agency might encounter is the fail- ure to fully account for the difference between daily operations and the demands of COOP. Lambeth said agencies should consider the scalabil- ity of their infrastructure and assess whether they need to adjust the technologies that support business continu- ity objectives. For instance, an organization might base its authentication and con- nectivity infrastructure on the assumption that no more than 10 percent of the workforce will telework on a given day. But what happens if half the workforce wants to report for duty remotely during inclement weather? Can a VPN that serves 100 users on a typical day support 600 during peak demand? Industry and government executives say agencies must periodically test their infrastructure to determine whether it is COOP-worthy. They might do that by conducting broad telework tests or by concentrating on speci c elements. CDC, for instance, routinely tests its service desk s COOP plan. If service desk employees can t get to the of ce, they access the necessary systems remotely, and CDC routes calls to their homes. "We test that once a year," Murray said. "We have all staff work from home to make sure it works." ■ Next steps: BYOD considerations Agencies should address a couple of potential problems before pressing user-owned devices into duty for busi- ness continuity. DEVICE SECURITY. Mobile device management prod- ucts can containerize employees devices to isolate work functions from personal applications and data. Admin- istrators might also want to limit which agency applica- tions employees can access from their personal devices. SUPPORT FOR CRITICAL TASKS. Device restrictions boost security but can lead to dif culties. For instance, agencies that rely on employees using their personal devices to support a critical process in a continuity-of- operations scenario need to make sure employees have access to all the necessary applications. TRAINING. Whether devices are supplied by the user or the government, employees should be trained on telework policies, access methods and other procedures. Only about half the agencies the Of ce of Personnel Management polled said they provide teleworkers with speci c training about what is expected of them in an emergency.
March 30, 2013