The song and dance from IT staffers about how public cloud is unsuitable for "real" enterprise workloads is getting old. We're in a period of rapid change, and CIOs must evaluate new technologies, even those their teams are uncomfortable with. Scratch that -- especially those their teams are uncomfortable with.
A prime example is business continuity and disaster recovery. For years we had two choices: Buy redundant gear and data center capacity and do it ourselves, or hire an expensive specialty DR provider. Cloud changes all that. In fact, it's completely reset the game. The savings and agility gains from public cloud disaster recovery are quite real, and we can't pass them up based on fear and resistance to change. CIOs who don't push their teams to consider all options aren't doing their jobs.
We'll discuss business continuity, which seeks continuous operation of the business no matter what's happening in the outside world, and disaster recovery, which seeks to restore service after an acute event, in the unified context of business availability. It's a top priority by any measure, yet there's an incredible amount of dysfunction. Too often, infrastructure teams get put in sole charge of provisioning and testing disaster recovery. But unless the application team is involved, you don't know if your test worked. "The login screen came up, but we didn't bother to log in," sounds suspiciously like, "The operation was a success, but the patient may have died."
Because disaster recovery testing is a time-intensive, expensive, and scary process, unless the CIO gets personally involved and insists that all hands get on deck, systems don't get tested, or the exercise involves not much more than three guys and a pizza. That means we're rolling the dice, every day. Our latest InformationWeek Backup Technologies Survey of more than 430 business technology professionals, all involved with their organizations' backup systems, shows just 23% are extremely confident they could get the business up and running again in a reasonable time frame after a major disaster that takes out the main data center. Asked how frequently they conduct test restores of data or applications, the No. 1 answer is "once in a while." Fourteen percent admit they've never tested their restore process for some applications (10%) or at all (4%).
Slipshod testing isn't the only problem. We need only look at Hurricane Sandy to know that regional disasters often render regional private data centers useless, and that regional service provider resources aren't always available when your organization needs them. The result is that fewer systems are protected than should be, and many CIOs are just a 100-year flood away from unemployment. So you'd think IT execs would be excited about,
Jonathan Feldman is Chief Information Officer for the City of Asheville, North Carolina, where his business background and work as an InformationWeek columnist have helped him to innovate in government through better practices in business technology, process, and human ... View Full Bio