Magazine article Business Credit

Beyond Disaster Recovery: Architecting a Business Continuance Solution Capable of Yielding Real Business Value. (Selected Topic)

Magazine article Business Credit

Beyond Disaster Recovery: Architecting a Business Continuance Solution Capable of Yielding Real Business Value. (Selected Topic)

Article excerpt

E-mail arrives day and night. The World Wide Web never closes. You're always 'on and you're always open. Your window to close out the day and begin anew is shrinking faster and faster.

Information and people are the cornerstones of your organization--they are the only irreplaceable assets. And the ability to use that information, secure it and share it inside and outside your daily operation can make or break the company. You must protect that data to ensure continuity or your company can be exposed to risks as never before imagined.

Since information is your business, you need a system to mitigate or even prevent damage that can be caused by both planned and unplanned events. Information availability and integrity are susceptible to human error, severe weather, disruptions of electrical or communications networks and even terrorist attacks.

Ensuring that your company can remain in operation is what business continuity is all about. The integrity of your information is the core of any solid business continuity strategy. People, structures and strategies that fuel your company all depend on this information. Exploring and creating ways to unleash this information can move your company from a reactive, passive disaster recovery state to a proactive, productive continuous operation.

Today, sophisticated and demanding customers no longer exist to buy your products or services. They do business on their terms--now. Organizations that are not available for their customers, which include issues around business continuity, cannot endure.

In the past, companies viewed disaster recovery plans as a necessary evil with little financial benefit. Instead of treating such plans as an insurance policy--that costs money but pays no dividends until a catastrophe occurs--companies today are identifying ways to create a more complete business continuity solution. The concept is simple but powerful. By establishing a foundation centered on information currency and accessibility, organizations can turn their information into an active asset.

The definition of "always on" means different things to different companies. Some industries have regulatory standards that require duplicate systems that work best with mirrored data and mirrored applications. Other companies have off-site facilities where employees go in case of emergency. The key in each case is having a solid information infrastructure on which to build a flexible, adaptable and scalable business continuity program.

Conventional wisdom used to be that performing daily backups of company data to tape libraries was sufficient protection in case of emergency, but over the past few years companies' information growth and security requirements have far outpaced innovation in tape-based backup and recovery models. Some of the lessons learned from September 11th demonstrated the problem in the worst possible way--although companies expected to recover within 24 hours using tapes, many operations required extra hours or days. Because companies backed up their data at different points during nightly backup cycles, information was out of sync and it took significantly more time to reassemble it in a coherent manner. If it rakes a full day to recover from a blackout, hurricane, flood or physical attack, that single day can affect thousands of customers and, in turn, a larger network of their downstream clients, suppliers and others. Recovery times of longer than 24 hours after an outage can put companies our of business.

Restart, instead of Recovery

Hospitals have to operate around-the-clock; financial services now are on-call for cash or credit 24 hours a day; electricity for business is as critical as oxygen to the human body, and government agencies must operate without interruption.

When trouble arises, companies need to resume operations from the moment of interruption. Making it happen requires more than just the IT staff. …

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