IDC: Users taking a new tack on business continuity

The attacks on the U.S. on Sept. 11 last year have caused end users to make a fundamental reappraisal of what their key assets are and how to protect them, according to Steve Faris, vice president of marketing at storage management vendor EMC Corp. Asia-Pacific.

Speaking at IDC's Asia-Pacific IT forum here Monday, Faris said that users were working out how to implement business continuity plans despite being under tight IT budget pressure.

"Before (the events of Sept. 11), users believed that about 50 percent of their corporate information was mission-critical," he said. "But when they tested this afterwards they found that perhaps 80 percent of information turned out to be mission-critical as a lot of business support data was referenced as part of the information flow."

The four main areas that IS managers were looking at post Sept. 11 were facilities management, disaster recovery, information security and business continuity. These concerns had reached board level, Faris said.

"CEOs (chief executive officers) realize they have to protect their people, their facilities and their information," he said. "And if they have to choose two of those they will protect their people and their information. The CEO is now the champion of business continuity."

In the aftermath of the attacks on the U.S., users have come to several conclusions, according to Faris. These include:

-- two copies of data is not enough, since if one copy is destroyed, the second becomes vulnerable.

-- a back-up site across the street from the main site is not enough; dispersal is important-- business resumption requires backing up not only data, but processing power, network infrastructure and people-- back-up sites should begin to automatically go into action if the main site goes down.

When people are dispersed over various offices in the name of business continuity, applications such as e-mail soon come to be seen as mission-critical, Faris said.

Apart from disaster recovery, the information explosion is becoming a major concern for IS managers, as it is putting their departments under tremendous strain, according to Faris.

"We've created more information in the last two years than in the entire history of mankind," he said. "The increase in bandwidth is driving the storage market and storage capacity is also driving bandwidth demand. IS managers are trying to find ways to consolidate and manage their storage and free up staff to work on revenue-generating applications."

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