Enterprise IT Trends and the Wider-Spread Effect on Business Continuity

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Business continuity does not operate in a vacuum. Far from it, BC must interwork with the trends and developments in organisations, in particular in their IT operations. Whether from a standpoint of people, business objectives or technology, business continuity managers must remain in tune with the undercurrents of change at work in their enterprises. Often these are interlinked. To meet goals, departments acquire new IT technology independently of the established IT department, which leads to changes in business continuity roles and responsibilities. Examples are sales forces increasingly equipped with mobile solutions, and marketing teams building their own systems to manage market and customer information.

While the principles of business continuity hold good, their application is being modified. Enterprises are increasingly aware of the possibilities to look beyond the internal IT organisation and partner with external providers for data processing, storage and application development. They are becoming more realistic about offshore projects: high quality services are available, but now longer at the bargain prices touted some time ago. On the other hand, third parties can often accelerate company IT developments dramatically. Timeframes become weeks instead of years, with all the advantages and challenges that such rapidity brings.

Where else should you be looking to stay in touch with enterprise IT trends and their impact on business continuity? Surprisingly perhaps, the consumer IT world is a good place for information. Much of what is being offered to the public now finds its way afterwards into working organisations: smartphones, tablets, mobile applications and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) computing are all examples. While specialised technologies for large scale data storage and high-end processing are likely to remain within a business context, end-user IT increasingly draws on any useful source available. Keeping an open mind and an active interest in these different influences is all part of a business continuity manager’s job.

And the Winner for Overall IT Security is… Linux?

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Windows and Mac OS, watch out. A UK government agency tested different IT platforms to see which would be the most secure, and found that Linux (Ubuntu 12.04 in particular) was significantly better than Windows 8 and Mac OS X. The tests were run to evaluate performance in areas such as disk encryption, secure start-up, malicious code prevention and detection, virtual private networking and platform integrity under multi-tasking. The agency (CESG, Communications-Electronics Security Group) also identified a Samsung platform based on Android as a leader in mobile device security. Will the business world now flip over to Linux and Android as a consequence?

Such a radical change (Windows still has by the largest share of the PC operating market) is unlikely in the near future. However, with IT security closely linked to both business continuity and disaster recovery, findings like these certainly encourage enterprises to take a closer look. Aha, you say – isn’t the security track record of Windows linked to its dominance of the market, and the fact that there are so many opportunities to attack it? And won’t Linux also become a victim of its own success in this sense, if it achieves mainstream business popularity?

While availability to be attacked is a factor, Linux may be better off for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the tests by the CESG were technical and evaluated systems on an absolute basis of how secure they were – not how many people might be trying to hack them. Secondly, Linux benefits from numerous communities of users that actively produce solutions to security holes and vulnerabilities. This is in contrast to Windows, for which only Microsoft can produce patches, and similarly Mac OS, tended to by Apple alone. On the other hand, Linux will need to claim a bigger place in the hearts of both business users and business software developers if it is to truly conquer the business world.

A DRI Training Discussion Point – the Value of Your Data

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Participating in DRI courses on disaster recovery and business continuity planning and management is an excellent idea for many organisations, big and… not so big! The principles, techniques and best practices presented in the training show you clearly how to understand and apply the concepts that can make the difference between an enterprise that swims or sinks. Sometimes important points in the courses can benefit from reinforcement, particularly for information that the world in general is still getting up to speed on. For example, understanding the financial impact of data loss, i.e. the value of your organisation’s data, is relevant for everybody concerned with disaster recovery and business continuity.

We can identify four major dimensions for the value of data in an organisation. These are: availability, cost of creation/reconstruction, data loss, and associated reputational value. Understanding the costs associated with each dimension makes it possible to apply disaster recovery and business continuity knowledge even more effectively.

  1. The first dimension of availability or its opposite, downtime, can be evaluated in terms of the time and effort needed to restore missing data, and the loss of productivity for employees who need that data so that they can work properly (salespeople who need to sell, production workers who need to manufacture, etc.).
  2. Data that cannot be recovered must be replaced, which is the second dimension of cost, because of the need to recreate data from records or acquire them from a third party.
  3. If the data cannot be replaced, the cost will be in the blockage of financial transactions or sales, for example. This ‘opportunity cost’ corresponds to the third dimension.
  4. And for the fourth dimension, loss of data can affect the reputation of the organisation, as well as the share price when the organisation is a commercial enterprise.

Examining these different factors can help when deciding priorities in applying what you learn. And, of course, in seeing the return on investment you can get from each DRI training session.