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Summer Journal

Volume 27, Issue 3

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Jon Seals

“Why should we have a critical communications business continuity and disaster recovery plan?” It’s one of the most common questions asked in our business. The answer is simple for companies in certain industries. Often a variety of laws and regulations require or imply the need for a recovery plan to protect critical communications. Healthcare, financial, utility and government are just a few.

The answer for others is less defined. Common objections include cost, having a second facility with backup capabilities or outsourcing of print-to-mail operations. But the consequences of not having a proven recovery plan in place can be severe. They can range from loss of revenue and critical cash flow to service level penalties and fines or corporate image issues. Consider these five reasons your company should have a business continuity and disaster recovery plan in place:



Social sign-in has become a powerful force for marketers and consumers, validating the notion of federated identity in consumer-facing contexts. (Ironic that consumerization of IT is successfully tackling even the single sign-on problem that has bedeviled IT, showing how identity for the top line of the business can overcome resistance in ways that business-to-employee scenarios typically can't.)

But not all consumer-facing federated SSO is social. When I was with PayPal, our team worked on the underpinnings of what eventually turned into Log In with PayPal, which is strictly about federated identity flows for commercial purposes. And today Amazon has come out with Login with Amazon, a powerful statement of Amazon-as-identity-provider. They've been testing this with their own web properties Zappos and Woot; now they're enabling third-party merchants and other sites to use Amazon for authentication of people who already have active Amazon accounts, along with learning a few selected user attributes: name, email, and optionally the zip code of the default shipping addresses. No huge social graphs here, just data that partner eCommerce sites need to function (and make money).



CIO — Companies with strong relationships between the CIO and other C-suite executives are four times as likely as less-collaborative teams to achieve business results such as revenue growth and high profit margins, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers' fifth annual Digital IQ study.

PwC polled 1,108 business and technology leaders globally and split their responses into two groups: the 13 percent of respondents who rated themselves as "strong collaborators" in the C-suite, and the rest who didn't.

The study found a big correlation between strong C-suite collaboration and top business performers, which PwC defined as companies reporting revenue growth of 5 percent or more in the previous year and high levels of profitability, revenue and innovation.



Computerworld - Despite the growing threat of state-sponsored cyberattacks launched from China and other countries, U.S companies should not be allowed to fight back on their own, security experts say.

Such corporate counterstrikes would undermine U.S.-led efforts to develop international cyberspace standards and norms while exposing U.S. companies to retaliatory strikes.

"This is a remarkably bad idea." said James Lewis, senior fellow and director of the technology and public policy program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "It would harm the national interest."



The United Nations cautioned global businesses that economic losses due to natural disasters are at a high level, and the threat of profit loss will rise until risk assessment procedures become a core component of company strategies. 

"We have carried out a thorough review of disaster losses at a national level, and it is clear that direct losses from floods, earthquakes and drought have been underestimated by at least 50 percent," said Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the UN. "So far this century, direct losses from disasters are in the range of $2.5 trillion." He added that risk management should receive more focus in business schools.



Categories: General, Natural Disasters, Preparedness

Image of structures destroyed following Hurricane SandyBy Maggie Silver

Superstorm Sandy

Long Beach is your typical northeastern city nestled on Long Island. A mix of apartments, homes and buildings set on the water with an idyllic boardwalk that draws in plenty of tourists during the summer months. And like many other cities in the tri-state area, it was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy.

As we gear up for the 2013 hurricane season, which starts June 1, we thought it would be practical tospeak with some of the people who survived the biggest storm of last year and one of the most devastating to ever hit the area. That’s how we landed in Long Beach, talking to Alex Feygis about his experience and the lessons he learned about preparedness. 

Alex and his wife were living in a fourth floor apartment overlooking the water last October when Sandy hit. When the weather reports started predicting the storm that would eventual shatter the east coast, Alex, along with many others, thought it would be nothing more than what Irene had brought that previous summer. A few flooded streets and maybe some scattered, but short lived power outages.

So when the police drove down their street Sunday evening ordering a mandatory evacuation, Alex understandably found the situation, “a bit unnerving.”

Car damaged during Hurricane SandyTime to Evacuate

Alex and his wife moved their cars to what they thought was higher ground, packed a few days worth of clothes and headed to his in-laws that lived nearby in Oceanside. Unfortunately their in-laws’ one-story ranch was quickly overwhelmed with flood waters once Sandy hit. Relocating for the second time wasn’t that easy though, power was out across the city and cell service was spotty at best, not to mention battery life was draining quickly.

“I hadn’t considered communication being a problem; I guess I’m just so used to always having a cell phone.” Alex and Farrah had to stay put for the next 24 hours until they could communicate with his parents who lived farther in-land and the whole clan packed up and moved in…for three weeks! That’s how long it took for things to start to resemble normalcy.

A Slow Recovery

Although Alex’s actual apartment hadn’t flooded on the 4th floor, the lobby was under 5 feet of water and the plumbing and electrical system was totally shot. That was the case for the entire city of Long Beach who had no clean water for two weeks thanks to the sewage plant flooding. Even after potable water was restored, the apartment building had to replace boilers and electrical systems.

Needless to say, Alex and Farrah’s two day supply of clothes and necessities ran out quickly and they had to make a trip back to their apartment amid all the wreckage to re-up on supplies. When they returned, they realized their cars had been totaled due to the flood waters, which posed a whole new set of problems for them. It wasn’t an option to buy a car so they had to try and rent one to get to and from work (oh yeah, just because Sandy wreaks havoc on your life doesn’t mean you get a free pass from work). So Alex, along with hundreds of other newly car-less residents tried to rent a car. A shortage of vehicles wasn’t the only problem the couple faced though; the gas shortage also compounded things.

“It made returning to normal that much harder,” Alex recalls “Even the smallest trips made you think, is it worth wasting the gas on?”

On the plus side, Alex and Farrah had a strong family network they could lean on. Alex’s parents lived far enough inland that they had power restored quickly in their temporary home and there was access to grocery stores and other supplies. Although his in-laws sustained significant damage to their house and had to rebuild, they were properly insured and the money to rebuild has been slowly trickling in. 

Damage outside of an apartment building following Hurricane Sandy
Did we learn anything?



After talking to Alex though, I began wondering, did we learn anything from this event? Was it so catastrophic that people will go back to their complacency and assume nothing that big will ever happen again? It seems to be a common theme I hear when talking to people who lived through this. But even if another Superstorm doesn’t hit, aren’t there things learned from Sandy we can apply to even the more “mundane” storms.

Take for instance the gas shortage, sure chances of a massive run on gasoline that lasts for days isn’t that likely to happen again, but what if you had to evacuate and you had trouble finding gas for just that one day? Wouldn’t you give yourself a pat on the back for having the foresight to have tucked away an extra gallon in the garage, or stopped by the gas station on your way home from work when you heard the weather report?

Same goes for having an evacuation plan. Where would you go if you were told to leave your house and what would you bring with you? This doesn’t cost any money, all you have to do is sit down and think about what your plan would be and what you would take with you (think: important documents like birth certificates, passports, and deeds).

This is not to say that Alex didn’t learn anything from his experience. His first thought was reconsidering his evacuation plan. They’d make his parent’s house or a hotel even further inland their first choice for evacuation instead of the in-laws. They’d also have a few more supplies on hand and keep their phones well charged if an impending storm was approaching.

New Year Resolutions

As this year’s hurricane season approaches I hope you’ll take a moment to consider what you would do, not just in the extreme situations of Superstorm Sandy, but even in the more common thunderstorm or one of the possible 20 named storms that are predicted for this year. They may not be as extreme as Sandy but they can still bring with them destruction, flooding, evacuations, and any number of interruptions to everyday life.

Know thy audience, young crisis managers

Social media crisis management can be confusing to navigate, especially if you’re not sure which stakeholder groups you’re dealing with. Although each comment obviously comes from an individual, there are discernible groups that you see emerge again and again to join in online debates and dramatics.

In a post discussing online issues management tactics, social media pro Chris Syme defined four of the most common:



BANGALORE, INDIA – Pacnet, a leading provider of integrated and full-service network and data solutions to the Enterprise, and Carrier customer segments in the Asia Pacific region, today announced that it has completed the deployment of a Content Delivery Network (CDN) Point of Presence (PoP) in Bangalore.
The new PoP complements its existing CDN PoP in Mumbai, which was deployed in 2012.  By deploying more CDN PoPs across Asia-Pacific, Pacnet is able to store and deliver digital content at CDN PoPs in local markets, which accelerates the speed and distribution of content, such as rich media and applications, to Internet users. Pacnet deployed two new PoPs in China early this year to increase the performance and speed of digital content delivery in that country. Pacnet also has access to a worldwide footprint through its CDN federation partners in Europe and the United States.
"The addition of the CDN PoP in Bangalore is one more step we have taken to expand the reach of our CDN service, and accelerate web content to users in the region's two largest markets – India and China,” said Jim Fagan, President of Managed Services, Pacnet.  "It also marks the successful installation of our 10 self-owned and managed CDN PoPs throughout Asia Pacific."
Pacnet’s service portfolio includes extensive MPLS and International Private Line coverage throughout India, Asia-Pacific, North America, and Europe along with interconnected data centers in most major markets in the region. Over the past several months, Pacnet has announced a new data center build in Singapore, the opening of its facility in Chongqing, China, and an expansion of its Sydney, Australia facility.  The company also announced an investment into its sub-sea fiber networks to build a 100Gbps network, and an expansion of its IP VPN license in China.
"Pacnet has built a robust service portfolio to address the needs of large Enterprise and Carrier companies in India," said Sunanda Das, Managing Director - India, Pacnet.  "India has seen explosive growth over the past several years and more-and-more companies are looking to expand their current operations to better support their customers in India and around the world."
Bangalore is the epicenter of India's IT industry and home to many of country's most tech savvy Internet users and has the nation’s largest number of broadband Internet connections.  In March this year it became the first city in India to offer free Wi-Fi hotspots.
About Pacnet
Pacnet is Asia Pacific's leading provider of integrated network and technology solutions for enterprise, service provider, and carrier customers. Ownership of the region's most extensive high-capacity submarine cable systems with over 46,000 km of fiber and connectivity to data centers across 16 cities in Asia Pacific – gives Pacnet unparalleled reach to major business centers throughout the region including Japan, China, India, and the United States. Combined with a complete set of services for managed data, private line, hosting, co-location, and content delivery, its assets and experience in the region have helped Pacnet service large businesses worldwide including many of the Fortune 1000. Pacnet is headquartered in Hong Kong and Singapore, with offices in all key markets in Asia and North America. For more information, please visit: www.pacnet.com.

The Business Continuity Institute

Professionals in Shanghai Gain “BCM Awareness” at the BCI China Conference 2013

About 100 professionals in Shanghai and other parts of Asia are now more knowledgeable in Business Continuity Management (BCM) for having participated in the successfully held BCI China Conference 2013 from 16-17 May.

The two-day event, which was most appropriately themed “International Standard and BCM Practice in China,” provided the venue for various industry representatives to gain valuable information on relevant topics such as Risk Management, the new international BCM standard ISO22301 and Social Media Crisis from some of the most accomplished BCM experts today.

Highlights of the event include presentations made by Steve Mellish, Chairman of the Business Continuity Institute (BCI), on the latest industry trend “Horizon Scanning.” Also, BCI Vice Chairman David James-Brown presented on the very interesting “Managing Crisis of a Case Study from Australia, Brisbane Flooding Crisis.” BCI Asia Regional Director Henry Ee provided information on the BCI certification and membership system which served as an “interactive survey” with event participants.

Another important part of the event was when the Director of the China National Institute of Standardization announced that China’s “National BCM Standard” will be ready by fourth quarter of this year.

A very educational “Interactive BCM Simulation” was also conducted during the event which allowed participants to gain awareness on various BCM principles and concepts. The said activity was well-received by participants as it was based on realistic scenarios relevant to a pandemic crisis.

The BCI China Conference 2013 was co-organized by BCI and Business Continuity Planning Asia Pte Ltd (BCP Asia).

Based in Caversham, United Kingdom, the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) was established in 1994 to promote the art and science of business continuity worldwide and to assist organizations in preparing for and surviving minor and large-scale man-made and natural disasters.  The Institute enables members to obtain guidance and support from their fellow practitioners and offers professional training and certification programmes to disseminate and validate the highest standards of competence and ethics.  It has circa 8,000 members in more than 100 countries, who are active in an estimated 3,000 organizations in private, public and third sectors.

For more information go to: www.thebci.org

If your business accepts credit cards of any type, then you are automatically responsible for complying with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). This standard was developed by the five major credit card brands in order to create and maintain a consistent information security standard for all credit card processors  The ultimate goals is to prevent credit card fraud that occurs when cardholder data is left unsecured.

If your business isn’t PCI compliant, not only are you at risk of incurring fines and penalties from your merchant account provider – you’re also more likely to become a victim of credit card fraud.