Eight-business continuity lessons from 9/11

With the threat of war against Iraq looming, the need for heightened security and protection of information has never been more prevalent.

Storage solutions, software and service provider EMC has been offering data recovery/business continuity solutions since 1994 and has helped customers develop

business continuity strategies tackling planned and unplanned outages, including natural and man-made disasters.

Below are some valuable IT lessons from the tragic events of September 11th.

Lesson 1: Distance is key. On 9/11, people were unable to travel from their disaster recovery vault to the recovery site because of road and airport closures, clearly demonstrating that access to a second site can be restricted.

Lesson 2: Tape, as a medium of recovery is not effective. On 9/11, access to tape was restricted or eliminated, and recovery was slow. Even when files could be accessed and restored from tape, many were found to be corrupted or unreliable.

Lesson 3: All applications are critical. On 9/11, businesses found that proposals in process, agreements for trades, and the ability to document transactions and agreements were all contained only in their e-mail systems.

And if content of other information assets are lost in underlying or tertiary applications, it can affect higher-order applications such as customer relationship management (CRM) or enterprise resource planning (ERP).

Lesson 4: Inconsistent backup is no backup at all. On 9/11, many businesses realized that different backup schedules and strategies for different applications means that information necessary for broad-based business processes cannot be matched up or reassembled.

Lesson 5: People-dependent processes do not suffice. On 9/11, IT systems that performed best were those that could automate the task of recovery and limit the need for human intervention and manual activities such as tape transport and loading. When employees are tired and over-stressed, they’re prone to errors, extending the recovery process significantly.

Lesson 6: Two sites are not enough. On 9/11, even those companies with a second site were left completely exposed following the disaster as business processes became dependent upon a single facility. Service providers were overwhelmed, and organizations faced the prospect of functioning below their set policy levels for protection and business continuance for an extended period of time.

Lesson 7: Trust nobody but yourself. On 9/11, disaster recovery providers were met with a huge, unanticipated demand, and couldn’t always deliver.

That’s because they plan for only a percentage of their customers to require service simultaneously. When there’s a sudden, massive demand on their capabilities, they can’t be relied on to deliver.

Lesson 8: People are irreplaceable and so is information. On 9/11, once the safety of personnel was ensured, information was the one-a

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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