With the recent attacks on America and threats of terrorism suspected everywhere and anytime, the realization that order and chaos are correlative—to know one is to know the other— has come to unfold with stark reality.
Failure to prepare for it can give an otherwise ideal model a theoretical name and spell disaster for those associated with the discharge of its responsibilities.
The attacks on America have brought home the realization of the horrors of disaster when it strikes. As the experience dictates, putting the pieces together is not just technology but involves people and communication and the recognition that any problems here can be solved only through superior personal leadership skills combined with positive, strategic communication and in troubleshooting tough, touchy, sensitive corporate communications issues.
In the aftermath of 11 September 2001, as organizations began to build through the process of responding, reconstructing, restoring and recovering, they realized that classic recovery planning that focused on how to restore centralized data centers was far from adequate for contemporary businesses. Business continuity and disaster recovery are so vital to business success that they no longer remain a concern of the IT department alone. Information technology has become embedded in the fabric of virtually every aspect of a business. More difficult to calculate are the intangible damages a company can suffer: lower morale and productivity, increased employee stress, diverted resources and a tainted public image.
The events of 11 September have forced organizations to review their disaster recovery plans, especially in light of new technology. Disaster recovery efforts of the past were designed to provide backup options for centralized data centers. Nonetheless, the components to integrated business continuity are the same: recovery options for facilities, technology, network infrastructure and human skills. The goal for companies with no business tolerance for downtime is to achieve a state of business continuity, where critical systems and networks are available no matter what happens. Finally, organizations must make an executive commitment to regularly test, validate and refresh their business continuity and disaster recovery programs to protect the organization against perhaps the greatest risk of all—complacency.


There are two main reasons why organizations do not test their disaster recovery plans regularly. With good planning, a great deal of disaster recovery testing can be accomplished with modest expenditure.
Hypothetical—The hypothetical test is an exercise, first, to verify the existence of all necessary procedures and actions specified within the recovery plan and, second, to prove the theory of those procedures.
Component—A component is the smallest set of instructions within the recovery plan that enables specific processes to be performed. Full—The full test verifies that each component within every module is workable and satisfies the strategy and recovery time objective (RTO) requirements detailed in the recovery plan.
To achieve the first objective, a computer system of similar capacity and speed must be available for the estimated RTO as stipulated in the plan.
Even though the components of a perfect disaster recovery plan may exist, at the time of crisis they could be rendered useless in a matter of minutes. Because electronic transactions and communications take place so quickly, the amount of work and business lost in an hour far exceeds the toll of previous decades.
Organizations have realized that virtually all information technology components, including distributed open systems, large mainframes, desktop and mobile personal computers and work group servers must interact seamlessly to ensure accessibility to the information deemed critical to their business. Disaster recovery efforts of the present multivendor, multiplatform environment require a plan designed for integrated business continuity. However, the key to business continuity lies in understanding one’s business and determining which processes are critical to staying in that business and identifying all the elements crucial to those processes—specialized skills and knowledge, physical facilities, training and employee satisfaction as well as information technology. This means thinking proactively; engineering availability, security and reliability into business processes from the outset—not retrofitting a disaster recovery plan to accommodate ongoing business requirements. The ideal method of testing is for each component to be individually tested and proven before being included in a module (some of these components may be performed and verified during normal daily operational activities).


The requirements for continuous operations in an e-business, web-speed world are more complex and challenging.
Instead, critical business data can be found across the enterprise—on desktop PCs and departmental local area networks, as well as in the data center. The exercise is generally a brief one, taking approximately two hours to conduct, and is designed to look at the worst case for equipment, ensuring the entire plan process is reviewed. The aim of module testing is to verify the validity and functionality of the recovery procedures when multiple components are combined.
Web-based and distributed computing have made business processes too complex and decentralized. Although IT remains central to the business continuity formula, IT management alone cannot determine which processes are critical to the business and how much the company should pay to protect those resources.
The same information technology driving new sources of competitive advantage also has created new expectations and vulnerabilities. If one is able to test all modules, even if unable to perform a full test, then one can be confident that the business will survive a major disaster. Key business initiatives such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), supply chain management, customer relationship management and e-business have made continuous, ubiquitous access to information crucial to an organization. It is when a series of components are combined without individual tests that difficulties occur.Examples of module tests include alternate site activation, system recovery, network recovery, application recovery, database recovery and run production processing. Within ERP and supply chain environments, organizations can reap the rewards of improved efficiencies, or feel the impact of a disruption anywhere within their integrated processes.




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