The Catastrophic Cost of Indecision: Business Continuity

By: Bill Douglas, an EO Colorado member

Indecision in business is usually costly: either profits are missed or costs are incurred. Today, indecision may have cost everything to three companies I’ve heard from personally.

Each of these companies was reviewing disaster recovery options and have discussed implementing true business continuity with us.  After all, business continuity is the foundation for IT operational excellence.  I’ve had in-depth discussions with the executives and the IT operations staff about the costs, risks, and ROI of business continuity and we’ve submitted proposals to each.

None of the companies had made a decision to move forward…. yet.  Either the project didn’t have executive mandate or it was simply being shopped for the best price as if it were a commodity.  Each company knew they needed a solution, but none felt the urgency to act because they had some kind of backup (or so they thought).

Well, today Hurricane Sandy changed everything for them.

One company has a server room submerged in water.  Their business is completely down, and even after the water recedes they may not be able to recover.  Employees may be able to return to work soon but the business data is disparately backed up on tapes (residing in a storage facility in the same city) and the business systems are completely inoperable requiring complete replacement.  Meanwhile, the business cannot operate.

The second company has data replicated between buildings on a large campus. Well, Sandy is a big storm.  Their entire campus is taking on water.  It remains to be seen if they completely lose their systems and how long their recovery will take, but suffice it to say the executives are very, very concerned that they have no offsite replication or failover capabilities.  The downtime during restoration will be costly and they are hopeful it’s not catastrophic.

The third company only lost power.  However, power was down long enough to exceed their UPS and the systems all suffered hard shutdowns.  Now that the power is restored their SAN, where their main revenue generating systems database resides, won’t operate correctly due to server issues.  They chose to backup datausing software only on a few servers.  That inexpensive choice may cost them their company. With no system images and very little data, their 100 employees may be looking for work by the end of the week.

I consider some of these executives friends, so it’s painful that one of them spent 15 years growing an asset that could be wiped out in a day.  What breaks my heart is that to save a few grand many lives and families may be devastated.  Business Continuity doesn’t matter…until it does.

In summary, don’t cut corners when it comes to the essentials.  We wouldn’t drive without car insurance.  A boat captain never goes out without life preservers.  No company should ever operate without a true business continuity solution in place.

Our clients are all riding out the storm taking care of their families, their employees, and their clients knowing that their businesses can and will survive.

Some risks are simply not worth taking.

Categories: Best Practices FINANCES general


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