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Small Companies Unprepared For Disasters: AT&T Survey

Some 28% of respondents said they don't have adequate plans in place to cope with natural or other disasters, and another third of the 1,000 CIOs and other ITers polled said their firms have already suffered ill effects from disasters.
Slide Inc. Chairman and CEO Max Levchin has been thinking a lot these days about implementing a better disaster recovery plan as his fledgling media sharing site grows into a multibillion-dollar business.

Finding the cash to invest in servers and software isn't the issue for the 34-person startup. After all, Levchin co-founded PayPal with Peter Thiel, which they sold to eBay Inc. for $1.5 billion in 2002.

Executives at many small companies like Slide say they don't have the time or the resources to organize and build a detailed plan. "If I experiment by turning off all power in the data center for 24 hours, what would happen to Slide as a result wouldn't be pretty," Levchin said. "We would recover, but not smoothly."

Levchin isn't alone. AT&T Inc.'s fifth-annual Business Continuity Survey released Tuesday, which polled about 1,000 CIOs and IT executives at U.S. companies with more than $10 million in annual revenue, reveals that 28 percent do not have adequate plans in place to cope with natural or other disasters.

Nearly 30 percent of executives who participated in the survey said their company has suffered from a disaster. Eighty-one percent of executives said cyber security is part of their overall business plan for interruptions in 2006, up from 75 percent in 2005.

Eight out of 10 companies have revised plans in the past 12 months, including 48 percent that say they've been updated in the past six months. Of those companies with plans in place, 40 percent say they have not tested their plan in the past year.

Companies in Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Washington, D.C. were among the most prepared and made their disaster recovery plan a high priority, compared with those less prepared in Detroit, St. Louis and Seattle.

As the survey suggests, some companies are more prepared than others, especially those who offer For example, PAR3 Communications Inc. manager Mary Anne Gunn said the Seattle-based company, which provides enterprise communications and emergency notification services during disasters, has four back-up datacenters " Denver, Seattle, Boston and Chicago " to store critical information.

Double-Take Software, which offers data protection and disaster recovery services for Windows, uses its own services and software to replicate data. The company backs-up about 200-GB daily, or 1-terabyte weekly, in real-time as employees update company information. "If our systems are down, we can't continue to process orders," said Bob Roudebush, director of solutions engineering for the company.

Double-Take processes between 300 and 1,000 orders weekly. "It also makes it difficult for us to offer technical support," Roudebush said.