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Spring Journal

Volume 32, Issue 1

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As companies' requirements to deliver information critical to daily business continue to grow, corporate data networks must expand to support this information-based infrastructure. Timely and accurate delivery of this information is increasingly important both to consumers, as well as to companies as information providers. Maintaining these corporate data networks presents new challenges for the technical teams responsible for supporting business operations departments who depend on information delivery as a mission-critical tool for commerce. Additionally, the speed at which companies respond to and solve network outages continues to affect customer perception and satisfaction.

Companies such as First Data Corporation, a global leader in payment systems, electronic commerce, and information management products and services, are deploying an advanced conferencing technology that allows response teams to create virtual response centers, or 'war rooms,' to more quickly resolve network issues. This new technology is designed specifically to streamline communications during crisis response and disaster recovery efforts. Most importantly, it allows companies to assemble the right people to quickly and efficiently address and solve problems.

How well do you sleep?

Nearly four thousand years ago King Solomon wrote 'Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked' Proverbs 3:25, NIVi. King Solomon preserved sound judgment and discernment in the management of his kingdom. Can you sleep with the confidence that King Solomon enjoyed? ( I am referring, of course, to your capability to continue your business through a disaster episode.) This article focuses on what I shall designate 'Tactical Computing', that is non-mainframe in the broadest sense ( condensed for brevity from a plethora of terms, including: Client/Server, Network Computing, Distributed, Open, Multiplatform, Desktop, PC/LAN, Multi-Platform, Minicomputer and Enterprise Computing. This article also applies to the burgeoning SOHO computing arena (Small Office Home Office).

On November 6, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) launched Project Impact: Building a Disaster Resistant Community, an initiative designed to challenge the country to undertake actions that protect families, businesses and communities by reducing the effects of natural disasters.

We've got to change the way we deal with disasters. We have to break the damage-repair, damage-repair cycle. We need to have communities and businesses come together to reduce the costs and consequences of disasters. It is our number one priority at FEMA. Project Impact includes a national awareness campaign, the selection of pilot communities that demonstrate the benefits of hazard mitigation through a partnership approach, and an outreach effort to businesses and communities using a new guidebook that offers a formula for a community or business to follow to become disaster resistant.

Imagine: Your company's riding high on the success of the new Java applications you installed last year. With Internet access to your legacy applications, you've been able to hold your sales support staff constant while experiencing a 50% increase in sales. Prospective customers are accessing your web site for pricing, ordering, automated credit checks and to schedule delivery.

Your mobile sales force does all of that and more for complex proposals. Now imagine the moment when the data center that houses your web server suffers a disaster. You're on your way to the hot site before it comes to you: 'How will Internet traffic from my customers and sales staff find me at my hot site location?

Barring acts of God or deliberate sabotage, no obstacles to a successful project are insurmountable. By following five key principles of project management, the Recovery Planner can, in fact, avoid all of the obstacles listed below, and never have to resort to making excuses.

The five principles are:
1. Manage Scope and Objectives: Never allow a project to become unmanageable due to a scope that is too broad, or objectives that are ambiguous.
2. Manage Commitment and Budgets: Never allow a project�s objectives to be compromised by lack of commitment or inadequate funding.
3. Manage Target Dates and Accountability: Never allow a project to fall behind schedule due to unrealistic target dates, or lack of accountability for meeting target dates.
4. Manage Communication and Technical Expertise: Never allow a project to get off course due to poor communication among project members, or lack of well rounded technical expertise.
5. Manage Testing and Maintenance: Never allow a project to produce a plan that may not work due to inadequate testing or poor maintenance.

The key word in each of the above principles is �manage�. This is an active verb, and effective project management requires action: action initiated by the project manager to avoid pitfalls and overcome obstacles. The specific actions that can, and should, be taken to ensure a successful Recovery Planning project are described in the following sections.