The next step in my recovery and continuity journey came in my next job, a start-up company called Chi/Cor Information Management, where I started an IT consulting practice within an applications development firm. We planned to do a lot of things, capacity planning, data center moves, DOS to OS conversions (remember those?), data center audits, and just general data center types of consulting. Times were kind of lean back then, however, so there was not too much work available. But a fellow I knew told me that a major railroad needed a disaster recovery plan, and did I want to meet them and bid on it?
I said sure, so I went up to meet them and told them I didn’t know much about disaster recovery, but I was a pretty good data center manager. I thought, “How much different could a DR plan be than just getting the system up and reloading everything?” Boy, did I have a lot to learn!
Eventually, I got the job. Low and behold, Chi/Cor was in the DR consulting business. We completed that project and then went on to get more and more business in the DR field, eventually becoming Comdisco’s preferred consulting firm for its new recovery business (CDRS). We also built and sold a very early recovery planning product called TRPS, the Total Recovery Planning System – rudimentary by today’s standards – but effective at the time.
After about two years of working with Comdisco as a partner, I moved over to start Comdisco’s consulting business and learned a lot more by being affiliated with a recovery vendor. Learning how the planning activities and the actual recovery activities worked together vastly expanded my understanding of what needs to be in a plan and how customers really go through a recovery. My career at Comdisco was an excellent platform for my continued growth in this field. I had the opportunity to start their consulting business and run the Comdisco recovery centers for more than seven years. During my 18 years at Comdisco, I moved to Europe to run their European recovery business, and eventually came back as the president of the entire worldwide recovery and continuity business. Participating in more than 500 recoveries, including some of the industries largest and most complex, certainly added to my war chest of knowledge, and gave me an unparalleled view of the marketplace.
I expected my career would continue at Comdisco. However, the recovery and continuity business was sold, leaving me with an opportunity to seek a new position, and I was fortunate enough to find an excellent opportunity with IBM.
In my current position as vice president of IBM’s business continuity and recovery services organization, I have the opportunity to work for a company that has the resources and skills to truly provide the solutions that the industry is moving toward: true business resilience, the integration of continuity, recovery, security and high availability. I am truly fortunate to be doing what I like to do – assisting companies in protecting their assets, information, and systems to ensure they can continue in business.
So in closing, what has changed and what has stayed the same?
The things that have weathered the test of time include:
• The need for these types of services
• The importance of planning ahead
• The importance of recovery times and recovery points
• The value of testing
• The criticality of preserving and accessing information.
The things that have changed include:
• The evolution of recovery and continuity to resilience of operations
• The importance of, and involvement of, security
• The re-birth of the internal or dedicated solution
• The increasing role of regulation
• The requirement for a strategy instead of just a solution
• The increasing visibility of our business.
I have enjoyed being a part of this business for more than 25 years, and look forward to an even greater future.
John Jackson recently joined IBM to oversee its U.S. Business Continuity and Recovery Services group within IBM Global Services. Recognized worldwide as an expert and spokesperson on business continuity and high availability services, Jackson brings a wealth of industry expertise with more than 24 years in this area.