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Spring Journal

Volume 28, Issue 2

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A study by research firm IDC carried out on  behalf of Carbonite has revealed that over 80% of small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) have experienced downtime in the past, and that the costs associated with this downtime conservatively range from $82,200 to $256,000 for a single event.

Small businesses are by no means exempt from disruption and the latest Horizon Scan report carried out by the Business Continuity Institute shows that business continuity professionals working for smaller organizations have concerns about the same threats that their counterparts in larger organizations have. What is potentially a greater danger for these SMBs however, is that they often have less capacity to absorb any disruption.

The survey does show that for many SMBs, the threats they face are not going unchallenged. The survey of 700 SMBs worldwide found that 81% of those currently using business continuity solutions are considering improvements to their strategies, while 72% plan to increase investments in business continuity over the next 12 to 24 months.

Small businesses are facing operational challenges stemming from persistent data growth, budgetary constraints and the need to produce more with less which is driving adoption of cloud computing, data analytics and mobility similar to their enterprise counterparts,” said Laura DuBois, Vice President of IDC’s storage practice. “To address these challenges, SMBs have signalled a need and intention to drive material spending on business continuity in the next 12 to 24 months.”

The main driver behind increased investment in business continuity is the threat of downtime which 76% of SMBs surveyed cited as the single biggest reason for purchasing business continuity solutions. The reason for this is clear as the study highlights that the average estimated cost for an hour of downtime for an SMB ranges from $8,220 to $25,600, and typically an unplanned event can last for as long as 24 hours – which could be devastating to a small business.

When it comes to disaster recovery, the stakes are higher for small businesses,” said Mohamed Ali, Carbonite’s President and CEO. “SMBs realize that a business continuity solution can mean the difference between staying in business or losing everything they’ve worked for, and the data shows they are investing accordingly."

http://www.thebci.org/index.php/about/news-room#/news/small-businesses-investing-more-in-business-continuity-115301

How should your clients back up their data? It may seem like a simple question, but the answer many MSPs provide--“a dedicated backup service, of course!”--may or may not be the right solution for every client. In reality, both business-grade file sync and traditional backup services have overlapping functionality when it comes protecting data against permanent loss. Ask your clients the following five questions to determine whether file sync or a dedicated backup solution is a better fit for their needs:

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http://mspmentor.net/blog/file-sync-or-dedicated-backup-five-questions-msps-should-ask-determine-best-backup-solution-the

Business users are finding that the self-serve data and integration tools they craved are leading to more confusion and frustration, it seems.

“Last year the buzzwords were data discovery and governed data discovery—everyone wanted to learn as much as possible about those two concepts,” writes Rado Kotorov, vice president of Product Marketing for Information Builders. “Based on the excitement last year, it seemed that data discovery would replace all other styles of BI and analytics. But I found that the excitement over data discovery was replaced at this year’s Gartner summits by confusion and concerns.”

Since Gartner is all about bimodal IT this year — or what the rest of us have called self-service technology — the research firm’s answer to this is “bimodal BI.” The approach basically calls for separating data discovery and analytics from traditional BI reporting.

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http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/integration/self-serve-data-leading-to-shift-in-business-products-it-responsibilities.html

You could leap onto your desk, wave both fists in the air, and scream ‘Why, why, why?’ You could organise a whip-round in your company and invite colleagues to give generously to ‘help save our business continuity’. You could even just accept the cut. After all, whose budget isn’t being cut nowadays? Tempting as these options may seem, they do however suffer from (at least) one major drawback. They are unlikely to get your business continuity budget reinstated in full afterwards. You need a better plan. One that can see you through a rough period, help you get your budget back to where it should be, and even prevent a cut in the first place. Read on for further details.

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http://www.opscentre.com.au/blog/so-they-cut-your-business-continuity-budget-now-what-do-you-do/

DENVER – Thursday, April 30, is America’s PrepareAthon! National Day of Action, a grassroots campaign for action to get families, organizations and whole communities better prepared for emergencies. The campaign offers easy-to-use preparedness guides, checklists, and resources to help individuals prepare for common natural hazards and to take action, including downloading alerts and warnings, holding a drill, or safeguarding critical documents.

Despite the devastation that tornadoes, wildfires, and other natural disasters have caused in recent years, nearly 60 percent of surveyed Americans have not participated in a preparedness drill or exercise at their workplace, school, or home in the past year. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Denver-based regional office joins the states of Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming in encouraging the whole community to participate in the America’s PrepareAthon! campaign by performing one of these simple preparedness actions:

  1. Sign up for local text alerts and warnings and download weather apps to your smartphone.
    Stay aware of worsening weather conditions. Visit ready.gov/prepare and download Be Smart: Know Your Alerts and Warnings to learn how to search for local alerts and weather apps relevant for hazards that affect your area.
  2. Gather important documents and keep them in a safe place.
    Have all of your personal, medical, and legal papers in one place, so you can evacuate without worrying about gathering your family’s critical documents at the last minute. Visit ready.gov/prepare and download Be Smart: Protect Your Critical Documents and Valuables for a helpful checklist.
  3. Create an emergency supply kit.
    Bad weather can become dangerous very quickly. Be prepared by creating an emergency supply kit for each member of your family. Visit ready.gov/kit for information on what to include in your kit.
  4. Develop an emergency communication plan for your family.
    It’s possible that your family will be in different locations when a disaster strikes. Come up with a plan so everyone knows how to reach each other and get back together if separated. Visit ready.gov/make-a-plan for communication plan resources.

Every state in FEMA Region VIII has shown support for America’s PrepareAthon! this spring by aligning a variety of preparedness activities with the campaign. The National Weather Service in North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming held statewide tornado drills to prepare residents for severe spring and summer weather; nearly one million Utahns participated in earthquake drills during the Great Utah ShakeOut; and communities throughout Colorado and Montana will hold wildfire preparedness events on May 2 for Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, an America’s PrepareAthon! partner event.

For more information about America’s PrepareAthon!, visit ready.gov/prepare. Follow America’s PrepareAthon! on Twitter using the handle @Prepareathon and #PrepareAthon.

http://www.fema.gov/news-release/2015/04/29/americas-prepareathon-national-day-action-set-thursday

Combined with built infrastructure, natural habitats can protect shorelines from threats
Natural "green barriers" help protect this Florida coastline and infrastructure from severe storms and floods. (Credit: NOAA).

Natural "green barriers" help protect this Florida coastline and infrastructure from severe storms and floods. (Credit: NOAA).

The resilience of U.S. coastal communities to storms, flooding, erosion and other threats can be strengthened when they are protected by natural infrastructure such as marshes, reefs, and beaches, or with hybrid approaches, such as a “living shoreline” — a combination of natural habitat and built infrastructure, according to a new NOAA study.

The study, published in Environmental Science and Policy, assesses reports and peer-reviewed studies on the strengths and weaknesses of using built infrastructure, such as seawalls or dikes, natural infrastructure, or approaches which combine both. The study focuses on how these approaches help coastal communities reduce their risk of flooding and erosion, as well as additional benefits, and the tradeoffs when decision makers choose one type over another.

“When making coastal protection decisions, it’s important to recognize that built infrastructure only provides benefits when storms are approaching, but natural and hybrid systems provide additional benefits, including opportunities for fishing and recreation, all the time,” said Ariana Sutton-Grier, Ph.D., the study's lead author, member of the research faculty at University of Maryland and NOAA’s National Ocean Service ecosystem science adviser. “Natural and hybrid systems can also improve water quality, provide habitat for many important species, and mitigate carbon going into our atmosphere.”

Examples of coastal defenses including natural infrastructure, managed realignment, and hybrid approaches. (Credit: NOAA).

Examples of coastal defenses including natural infrastructure, managed realignment, and hybrid approaches. (Credit: NOAA).

Threats like coastal erosion, storms and flooding can reshape the shoreline and threaten coastal property. With approximately 350,000 houses, business, bridges and other structures located within 500 feet of the nation’s shoreline, erosion is a problem many U.S. coastal communities are addressing.

Coastal flooding caused by extreme weather events and sea level rise is of growing global concern. As noted in this study, in 2012 there were 11 weather and climate billion-dollar disaster events across the United States, including superstorm Sandy, causing 377 deaths and more than $110 billion in damages. While only two of those were coastal events, Sandy alone was responsible for nearly sixty percent of the damages, at $65 billion (the other, Hurricane Isaac, caused $3 billion in damage). Nationally, these made 2012 the second costliest year on record for weather disasters. Only 2005, which incurred $160 billion in damages due in part to four devastating coastal hurricanes, saw more.

“Coastal resiliency and disaster risk reduction have become a national priority, and healthy coastal ecosystems play an important role in building resilient communities,” said Holly Bamford, Ph.D., acting assistant secretary of commerce for conservation and management at NOAA, and co-author of the study. “We know that sea levels are rising and that coastal communities are becoming more vulnerable to extreme weather- and climate-related events. Now is the time to invest in protection to secure our coasts, but we need to make those investments wisely and with a full understanding of the costs and benefits of different approaches.”

Coral reefs protect shorelines from currents, waves, and storms. Healthy reefs have rough surfaces and complex structures that slow incoming waves — dissipating much of the force. (Credit: NOAA).

Coral reefs protect shorelines from currents, waves, and storms. Healthy reefs have rough surfaces and complex structures that slow incoming waves — dissipating much of the force. (Credit: NOAA).

The study points out that there is still a need for built approaches in some locations. However, natural or hybrid approaches can be used in many cases.

Some natural ecosystems can maintain themselves, recovering after storm events and reducing the cost of upkeep. Natural habitats such as coral reefs, marshes and dunes can act as buffers for waves, storms and floods. Natural ecosystems also can, in many cases, keep pace with sea level rise, while built infrastructure does not adapt to changing conditions.

“There is a lot of potential innovation with hybrid approaches,” said Katya Wowk, Ph.D., NOAA senior social scientist, and the third co-author of the study. “Hybrid approaches, using both built and natural infrastructure, often provide more cost-effective flood risk reduction options and alternatives for communities when there is not enough space to use natural coastal protection alone.”

Hybrid approaches, such as combining some habitat restoration with openable flood gates or removable flood walls, provide benefits while also providing more storm and erosion protection than natural approaches alone. The study highlights hybrid approaches in the New York City metro area and in Seoul, South Korea, to deal with their monsoon flooding events.

Recently planted rows of American beachgrass will help protect a dune in Sandy Hook, New Jersey. (Credit: NOAA).

Recently planted rows of American beachgrass will help protect a dune in Sandy Hook, New Jersey. (Credit: NOAA).

“One of the challenging aspects is that these approaches are very new, so we are still learning what works best in which situations and under what circumstances,” said Wowk.

The authors suggest that every location where hybrid and natural approaches are being implemented provide opportunities for monitoring so we can learn as much as possible about each approach, including longer-term cost effectiveness.

“There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution when it comes to what is best for a community in providing coastal protection from flooding,” said Bamford. “We all have to work to innovate, test, monitor, and develop a better suite of options that includes more natural and hybrid infrastructure alternatives for providing coastal protection to communities around the world.”

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and our other social media channels.

http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2015/20150429-noaa-study-finds-marshes-reefs-beaches-can-enhance-coastal-resilience.html

Despite the fact that we often see the terms used simultaneously, there actually are significant differences between business intelligence (BI) and data analytics.

If you’re a bit fuzzy on how they differ, Lillian Pierson recently posted a succinct video post explaining the key difference between business intelligence and data science (the rest of us would call that data analytics or Big Data analytics).

Pierson is the founder of Data Mania, a data science consultancy and education company, as well as author of “Data Science for Dummies” (2015). Previously, she worked as a project engineer consultant and a spatial data scientist. I highly recommend following her on Facebook, which is how I found this video.

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http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/integration/visualization-key-to-democratization-of-data.html

The private cloud is the best way to bring enterprise applications and data to a scalable, flexible infrastructure.

The private cloud is a waste of money and will never compare to the public cloud.

With such stark differences of opinion throughout the IT industry, it’s no wonder most enterprises are in a quandary over how much, if anything, to invest in the private cloud.

But as I’ve mentioned in this space numerous times, it does not matter what your peers are doing or what they think. All that really matters is finding solutions to the problems that impede data productivity, and if the best solution happens to be on internal cloud infrastructure, so be it.

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http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/infrastructure/dont-give-up-on-the-private-cloud-just-yet.html