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Winter Journal

Volume 30, Issue 4

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Introduction

What is the power of stakeholders in the continuous operation of an information system? Following are the results of a web-based survey to benchmark stakeholders in IS continuity. The survey was conducted by the Pontikes Center for Management of Information, College of Business and Administration, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Responses were solicited by e-mails to 210 executives who had registered their address when they visited the Disaster Recovery Journal home page. A total of 50 people interested in IS continuity completed the survey, resulting in 40 usable responses. The profile of these respondents is summarized in Table 1. The questionnaire used is at the Pontikes Center web site http://www.pontikes.siu.edu/ .

Setting the Stage

The bayside community of San Leandro, a progressive and conventional mid-size city of approximately 75,000 people, is located in San Francisco’s East Bay between the cities of Oakland and San Jose. During the last several decades, community leaders and city officials have developed a community culture based on traditional family values and a unique quality of life normally associated with a small town environment. The foundation that anchors city officials and elected officials to its community is the conviction of "doing the right thing"; giving back more than it receives, supporting and being supported, and embracing and being embraced.

San Leandro, like many other cities in the San Francisco Bay Area, is situated among several well-known earthquake faults; one of these is the Hayward fault. Over one million people live adjacent to the Hayward fault which stretches sixty miles along the East Bay and is comprised of a northern and southern segment; at the apex of these two segments is the City of San Leandro. Thus the city has developed and implemented a comprehensive emergency services plan that addresses the East Bay’s natural and man-caused hazards; this plan is called the Partnership for Preparedness Program. This program incorporates the principle that preparedness and mitigation is a local issue, thus accepting the responsibility for reducing the impact of disasters. A significant element of the city’s vision statement is dedicated to becoming a Disaster Resistant Community.

Many words have already been written about the so called millennium bug. Probably many more will also be written prior to January 1, 2000. So why am I adding to the number when surely we would all be better off rolling our collective sleeves up and getting down to fixing the problem while there is still some time left? After all it is essentially a very simple problem - too few digits in the year - so why all this talk?

The problem may well be simple in the extreme, but the solutions that have arisen to solve it have caused a small sub-industry to come into existence. Year 2000 software has become highly competitive and the user may well be baffled as to his or her needs and requirements.

Initially, for most people, is the need to measure the scale of the problem. Management needs a figure to budget for the solution just so they could stay in business. Impact Analysis tools are available to produce measurements of how date affected systems were.

At this stage a number of people have undoubtedly decided to port their systems to another platform and effectively solve the problem with a total rewrite. However, most have decided to amend their existing systems and make them Year 2000 compliant.

"If you’re failing to prepare,
you’re preparing to fail"
— Bobby Collins
 
When it comes to Disaster Recovery (DR), pre-planning is of the utmost importance, especially if you are the one responsible for timely restoration of IT resources. Considering that many written plans still have shortcomings, imagine what would happen without any plan or recovery exercises. It is easy to imagine the eventual consequences, yet this is a scenario still being gambled on by many.

This article is intended to provide relevant and factual information to help you plan your DR resources. After experiencing far too many corporate disasters, most plans fail to appropriately measure personnel factors. For instance, during a major hurricane, many employees may be unable to make it to the control center, and most really did not care about the company at that point, when more pressing family matters were of importance. So if you really want dedication, factor in the care of employees and their families to ensure commitment.

A comprehensive business recovery program involves/considers coordinated planning, risk evaluation, impact analysis, alternative strategies, facilities/utilities, data/physical security, back-up of vital records, teleprocessing (TP), emergency response, restoration, public relations, communications with public authorities, training, auditing, and testing.

With natural disasters and unforeseen computer glitches a constant threat, the data that you must maintain is always at risk. Increased dependency on computer systems requires proactive services to maintain constant availability. Your local area networks and wide area networks are a very sensitive part of your operation that require as much disaster recovery planning as any mainframe.

Ensuring hardware protection of these networks is a fairly simple task with a quality disaster recovery vendor. You make the call on a configuration that you want to store and the storage environment is provided for your backup equipment. This way you already will have your critical hardware on-site should a disaster occur.

Communications is the most difficult aspect of insuring that your networks are protected in the event of disaster. Facilities to install customized and dedicated communications to your exact specifications is a must. Interfacing directly with any carriers for your account also should be part of the service.

Being any distance from your recovery hotsite can present problems of access along with the costs of that access. There are many low cost programs such as ProComm Plus, the one most of our "remote" customers use. With this access in place, you can do some testing and updating before having to send people to the hotsite for the major tests of your recovery plan.