SmartAdvice: Look Beyond Filtering Techniques When Evaluating Anti-Spam Products - InformationWeek
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SmartAdvice: Look Beyond Filtering Techniques When Evaluating Anti-Spam Products

From blacklists to Bayesian learning, look at the kind of spam problems your company has and evaluate products based on business need, The Advisory Council says. Also, plan for the company's continuation when drafting disaster-recovery plans.

Question B: What are the most frequently overlooked parts of a disaster-recovery plan?

Our advice: In today's society, many diverse forces are being brought to bear on a business's information infrastructure. Regulatory agencies require the integrity of financial information and the protection of personal medical information. The Freedom of Information Act mandates the dissemination of information to those who request it. Effective customer-relationship management requires that employees have access to all relevant information relating to customers to better service them. And that includes information both internally and externally created, from all touch points and in diverse formats.

These are just some of the conflicting issues which IT management must deal with. But they all pale in comparison with the need to maintain the company's viability as a legal and financial entity in case of a disaster or terrorism.

Developing A Disaster-Recovery Plan
There should be three major parts to any disaster-recovery plan: management continuity, corporate continuity, and operational continuity. Management continuity requires a clear plan for succession of management should any of them not be able to perform their duties after a disaster. This plan might be written with specific names or it could be by title. Either way, the plan should be formalized and documented. A good place for this is in the corporate charter.

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Disaster Recovery Planning

Operational continuity is the plan for restoring the company's ability to sell and deliver its products and services. This plan usually includes computer operations, and is the portion of a disaster-recovery plan most frequently implemented. But the most often overlooked is corporate continuity -- the ability to maintain the company as a legal and financial entity after that disaster.

Why is this overlooked? I think it's because of the reliance on computerization by the rest of the corporation. They have plans in place to back up data and applications, and may have distributed production facilities. But the existence of a corporation is based on paper documents such as the corporate charter, board minutes, supplier, sales, and employee contracts, signed proxy cards (stockholder lists are usually computerized), records of regulatory filings, and correspondence. Having that information can avoid time-consuming and expensive litigation should a disaster occur.

Unfortunately, protecting this type of information is often overlooked when developing a disaster-recovery plan. And it may be the most important part of a comprehensive plan. The company is, in and of itself, the biggest asset to be protected.

Companies should examine their business processes to see where existing document assets can be leveraged to support a disaster-recovery plan without adding complexity and cost to the enterprise. And if they need help, they should obtain experienced external resources to perform a "sanity check" to verify their plan and identify shortcomings.

-- Ron Bleiberg

Frederick Scholl, TAC Expert, has more than 25 years of experience in technology investigations and research covering subjects including the Internet, data communications, and intellectual property. Recently, his work has included: drafting security policy for an enterprise publishing company; testing network reliability for a server farm installation within a Fortune 100 bank; evaluating an SLA for a cable ISP in contract dispute with backbone provider; documenting theft of network services for an outsourcer in a contract dispute with Fortune 100 client; and advising client on potential value of Internet technology patents. Prior to 1991, he was a pioneer in the fiber optic business, and chaired the IEEE committee that standardized the use of optical fiber in Ethernet LAN systems.

Ron Bleiberg, TAC Expert, has more than 25 years of increasingly senior responsibility and experience in the areas of consulting management and delivery, disaster-recovery planning, document-management systems, and total-quality management. His primary focus is working with clients to develop strategic business plans, identify opportunities for the use of state-of-the-art techniques to improve client-interaction capabilities, revenue and profitability, and the solutions associated with those efforts. He is VP of products and services at FileOn, a document-management vendor.

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