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Opinion: Katrina Sharpens Focus On Emerging Business-Continuity Technologies

Technology such as Voice-Over-IP, storage virtualization, and distributed data centers can keep businesses running in the face of natural, or man-made, catastrophes.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the massive disruption to life and property that will be felt well beyond the Gulf states, much of the technology discussion will likely focus on backup systems and disaster-recovery procedures.

But while those issues are relevant, they relate to only one aspect of the business and technical challenges that disasters of this magnitude bring. The larger and perhaps more strategic conversation should center on business continuity and, in particular, the solutions that can be brought to bear to ensure it.

Can be reached at (516) 562-7477 or via e-mail at mvizard@cmp.com.
For example, one area that is likely to receive more attention in the wake of Katrina is VoIP, specifically IP phones. While IP phones can save customers money by reducing phone costs, the most attractive thing about them is you can unplug an IP phone in, say, Denver, and then plug it in again in, say, Los Angeles, and it works. In the event of a disaster, that means your company can minimize communications disruptions to a matter of hours or even minutes.

The next area around which we should see some heightened awareness is storage virtualization. This whole segment has been on the verge of going mainstream for the past year.

But the Katrina aftermath will likely drive a lot more interest in robust distributed data management and storage systems that allow organizations to treat data as a virtual asset that can be accessed anywhere at any time, regardless of whether certain systems or nodes on the network are suddenly unavailable.

Finally, the whole concept of distributed data centers that can automatically pick up workloads from each other should drive a lot more interest as we develop the next generation of automated server provisioning tools. These tools allow for the configuration and provisioning of a server in a matter of minutes, rather than the days it might take to do the same thing manually. Alas, most businesses are woefully underprepared for even the smallest of unexpected events, but at least now a lot more people are focused on the issue. Unfortunately, it takes a disaster the size and scope of Hurricane Katrina to move this conversation to a higher level.

How prepared are you? I can be reached at (516) 562-7477 or via e-mail at mvizard@cmp.com.

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