We are presently in the midst of the greatest threat to business continuity since the ideas of disaster recovery were founded. I am not here to dwell on "the Y2K bug" as the popular media wants to call it, but to note that it is spotlighting the need for continuity planning now and in the future. We are seeing more companies wake from their "I’m safe" slumber to put disaster or continuity planners on new projects as well as the present states of business. The future looks brighter.
So, what is the future of Continuity Planning? We have seen our profession change in many ways over the last twenty years. We have gone from disaster recovery to continuity planning to resumption planning to continuity planning.
With disaster recovery we were involved in plans for the data center. We reported to the Data Processing Manager and were concerned with backup plans and hardware. Once some business entities entered into the picture we became aware of contingency planning. We needed to help a department to plan for contingencies when something happened in Data Processing that would cause them problems. This assignment was still part of Data Processing with some matrixed help from the department.
Attendee Hugh Moore commented that the conference was a "tremendous learning experience (and an) opportunity to talk to other professionals." Another attendee agreed, stating: "overall this forum is a wonderful exchange of contacts and the opportunity to discuss other corporations’ efforts in the field."
Over 1,300 business professionals, exhibitors, and speakers participated in this four day event, which provided a successful venue of information, networking, and in-depth sessions. Rich Moczygemba , another attendee, wrote: "I’m impressed with the growth (of DRJ’s conferences). I last attended in 1996 and now see twice the attendees."
The Sunday workshops began the seminar with six instructional components. The group leaders and their topics were: Carl Jackson, CISSP, "Business Impact Assessment How-To"; Gerry Smith, "How to Prepare Your Year 2000 Emergency Response Team"; Mike Cannon, CBCP, "Corporate Emergency Management Process"; Barney Pelant, MBCP, "Business Impact Analysis: Beginning to End"; William Rider, "Print and Mail Recovery Capabilities"; and SunGard Disaster Recovery Services, "Mock Recovery".
Comdisco Supports Companies' Computer Operations
Comdisco, which specializes in reestablishing large computer systems for major corporations after a disaster, is currently supporting major business customers affected by terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.
- 47 companies have declared disasters with Comdisco. The 47 customers declared 93 separate disasters.
· All 47 companies initially relocated to and worked out of Comdisco facilities. At one point, there were 3000 customer employees working out of our facilities. As of Sept. 25, 20 companies had returned to their facilities.
·Customers have primarily requested workspaces, complete with PCs and phones. Comdisco configured thousands of PCs during the first 24 hours to support customers.
·Customer Industries: Primarily financial services firms: Banks, insurance companies, investment banking and brokerage houses. Comdisco is also supporting one of the New York exchanges.
·Most customers had operations in New York, seven customers were in the World Trade Center and others were in nearby buildings. Other customers declared disasters for operations in Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Atlanta because of building evacuations.
·Recovery Facilities/Capabilities: At its highpoint, Comdisco utilized 13 of its 23 U.S. recovery centers. As of September 24, seven Comdisco facilities were still in use.
Even though Tropical Storm Allison was never upgraded to a hurricane, it came upon the U.S. with a blinding force. Heavy rains and winds ravaged southeastern Texas on June 8 and then moved to the northeast. The first storm of the 2001 Hurricane season claimed 47 lives and caused over $4 billion worth of damage. However, this event did not catch disaster recovery planners unprepared.
Comdisco Backs Customer During Houston Floods
- by Richard Magani
You would think a June storm named Allison would be a pleasant summer shower, but Tropical Storm Allison was anything but. The storm drenched the Houston area, blanketing large swaths of the city in floodwaters. Lightning and rising water combined to cause power outages across the area, sending utility crews into a frenzy trying to fix damaged transformers and other power equipment.
One Comdisco customer, a service bureau, declared a disaster after the company’s local data center lost power. Given the extent of power problems from the storm, the company was lucky:
Electricity was restored relatively quickly to its data center and the service bureau endured only a few hours of downtime. Despite the good fortune, the company kept Comdisco on standby in the event power went out a second time.
The service bureau declared after flood doors in a loading dock failed, causing the basement to flood. The floodwaters damaged power and communications equipment housed in the basement. The company did not have back-up generators.
Comdisco worked with the customer’s IT team to recover the service bureau’s AS/400 environment at Comdisco’s Carlstadt, N.J., Technology Service Center. Comdisco remained on standby for four days after the customer regained power in the data center.
“The customer made a wise choice in keeping us on standby because of the risk of losing power a second time. They needed to wait until the situation stabilized,” said Martin Goulbourn, vice president of operations, Comdisco Continuity Services. “Keeping data center systems running during a major event like this is a real high wire act, but we were ready to support customers at a moment’s notice. That gives them peace of mind.”
How many times in our lives have we heard, “It’s not what you know, but who you know”? The phrase usually comes to mind when searching for a new job. Recently, while attending the DRJ Fall World 2006 conference, I overheard someone make this statement in the hallway and thought to myself, “When it comes to business continuity, that’s so true.”
Business continuity professionals are a community that networks across all industries. When attending a conference, we might sit at our own industry tables, but there is common ground even when someone in the communications industry sits at the banking/financial services table.
Regardless of our respective industries, we all have knowledge and experiences to share – whether with our peers at conferences, local user groups, industry groups, or others. So it’s important to consider how well you network and how you go about it. Do you just network within your own company or industry? What happens if you are tasked with developing an emergency management or crisis management tabletop exercise? Do you have these skills in your toolkit? If not, where would you turn to begin such an assignment?
Networking with other professionals can be accomplished through many different channels: local business continuity/disaster recovery user groups, conferences, records management groups, security groups, public sector groups, past co-workers in business continuity, and so forth.
Who you know can mean the difference between accomplishing your task in an efficient and expedient way, accomplishing it with some difficulty, or failing altogether. If you’re in the private sector, have you reached out to network with the public sector? Do you know your local first responders? How about your supply/procurement chain? And have you established relationships with the utilities that provide services to your business?
In July 2006, several major storms hit the St. Louis, Mo., area. At one point, more than 600,000 of the local electric utility’s residential and commercial customers – including the company for which I work – were without power. This represented approximately one-third of the utility’s entire customer base. Although the utility immediately launched service restoration efforts, many affected customers didn’t know who to call to find out when their service would be restored. Two days