SHARE to Emphasize Business Continuity at Upcoming Conference
Published: July 31, 2007
by Dan Burger
Aligning business requirements with IT capabilities has captured the attention of many C-level executives and landed on the desks of many IT managers. It's assumed the top brass know what they want, but often they don't. Implementing business continuity plans is still evolving, even after years of development at the highest levels of global business. Because of this dichotomy, the IT professional organization known as SHARE has made it the focal point of its next conference.
Business continuity begins with a plan that prevents data loss and application downtime, but it expands from there to topics such as data management, minimizing risk and loss after the preventative measures fail in a worst case scenario. Of course, all this comes with a cost attached. Companies are deciding whether to invest in an internal backup infrastructure; determining return on investment based on several options including build it or buy it; forecasting the total cost of ownership in outsourced services; and prioritizing exactly what business functions and application needs are most critical.
Organizations that have the most advanced business continuity plans are those that consider downtime to not only be wasted time, but also a waste of money. To think of this as only another way of looking at disaster recovery or high availability solutions is failing to see the big picture according to Pam Taylor, lead analyst in the product innovation management group of a Fortune 500 subsidiary and one of SHARE's designated experts on business continuity.
Taylor describes SHARE's business continuity focus at this conference in terms of a holistic approach. In other words, it goes beyond what happens if systems fail. It's thinking about every aspect of the business that can be impacted by a disruption.
"It's making sure the customer has a 24x7 interaction with your business," she says. "It's ensuring that if a device fails, the backup device is activated in a seamless manner that is invisible to the applications, the customers, and the end users; ensuring data recovery, thinking about the disaster's impact on employees and whether the capability for them to work remotely exists."
SHARE has close ties with IBM, particularly the mainframe business unit and its largest enterprise customers regardless of platform. One of the conference sessions that Taylor singled out is an overview of IBM's thought leadership for business continuity planning and management. Its focus is on recovering the business as opposed to the more traditional way of looking at this which emphasized recovering the platform technology.
IBM's Norbert Lenz, a data access expert and session speaker at SHARE, takes the view that technologies such as replication, failover, and recovery are evolving, but are still focused on platforms or resources. In the abstract to his presentation, Lenz says "the solution needs to extend the scope of IT redundancy across platform and IT resources. This includes an improved and integrated management of I/O and data replication services, the aspects of network redundancy, and system and application failover capabilities."
IBM will offer a six-session track on business continuity issues, and other vendors including BMC Software, Solar Winds (formerly Neon Software), 21st Century Software, Brocade Communications, and Visara International lend their experts to the conference session agenda.
It's not surprising that cost determines what IT projects, including business continuity, can actually get under way. Businesses look at it in terms of can it be afforded and can we afford not to do it. Assessing risk and determining how much to accept and how much to mitigate against is part of the decision-making process and part of the session agenda, as is determining how these goals are attainable within the organization and whether outsourcing is a more practical alternative.
Taylor also says it's important to think about marrying the issues of data security and privacy with disaster recovery and dealing with device failover, an issue that could include encryption and the reloading master tapes, for instance.
"The thinking at most companies is still at the rudimentary disaster recovery level rather than at the broader business continuity level," Taylor says.
The SHARE conference will be held in San Diego, California, August 12 through 17. Business continuity is not the only item on the agenda. For a complete listing of sessions, follow this link.
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