Some Advice For The Blackout-Bitten - InformationWeek

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Some Advice For The Blackout-Bitten

Companies can't think of power outages as a single, brief event that involves only one data center or unit anymore.

There was something fundamentally different about this blackout, and the turn it took should lead some companies to reconsider their business-continuity plans.

One manufacturing client of Jupiter International, a business-continuity and restructuring consulting firm, had always seemed to have a sound IT backup plan. But that was before the term cascading power failures became part of the national vocabulary. When the electricity went off, as it has done before, the generators kicked in and the power stayed on. For a while. But not long enough, says Mark Dangelo, CEO of Jupiter and author of a feature on business continuity that will appear in the September issue of Optimize, InformationWeek's sister publication.

"They've cut over many times, but never for more than half a day," Dangelo says. "Like many companies, they have a plan in place. But it's really just a plan for a single, brief event involving a single data center or unit."

A good business-continuity plan involves three aspects: infrastructure, people, and process. It requires considering the possibility that more than one data center or business unit will be affected. And it must be driven at the C level, not just at the IT level, Dangelo says.

"Yesterday was the first time we had to deal with an emergency that affected multiple locations, their process, and the people in them at the same time, and many companies found they just could not deal with that. This is the first time it's happened, but I doubt it's going to be the last," Dangelo says. He predicts that the industry will see a lot more CEOs examining their allocations for this "and changing the way they've thought about [business continuity] for the past 20 years."

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