Taking a horse to water can be disastrous

We all know you can take a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. Similarly, we can all see how critical IT has become to the very existence of the majority of companies. Even so, you cannot force businesses to ensure the data in those IT systems and the business is protected through proper disaster recovery and business continuity (DR/BC) planning.

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By  Colin Edwards Published  July 3, 2006

|~||~||~|We all know you can take a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. Similarly, we can all see how critical IT has become to the very existence of the majority of companies. Even so, you cannot force businesses to ensure the data in those IT systems and the business is protected through proper disaster recovery and business continuity (DR/BC) planning.

Or can you?

Certainly, in the Middle East there is increasing talk in the market about different governments preparing to regulate the adoption of DR/BC by making companies – certainly in key sectors - implement proper disaster recovery planning and to comply with set procedures such as regular testing of the plans in place.

Regional governments, particularly Saudi Arabia, are talking to industry organizations and DR/BC specialists about how to go about this, what is needed and where to focus the initial initiatives.

Of course banking is high on everyone’s priority list as the key enabler of growth throughout the region. As one DR/BC specialist said: “If there is no confidence in the banking then there is no business in the region.”

But at a recent banking summit in Dubai, one speaker warned that the banking sector in general was far from prepared for disasters citing as an example, Dubai’s power outage last year. Visits to different banks during the outage showed varying degrees of chaos in action. In fact, only one bank was anywhere near coping with the disaster in the banking halls. IT might have survived the disaster, but the business was struggling.

This is why Governments are moving towards some sort of DR/BC legislation and there is increasing concern among CIOs about what they need to do to ensure they can comply.

DR/BC vendor response is that there is certainly increased awareness of the need for disaster recovery planning, but the next stage, business continuity planning, is by and large, still in the pending tray. Such a lack of comprehensive BC planning is a bit like your car being wiped out in a flood. Your insurance gives you a new vehicle, but the roads are still flooded. What you really needed to get around was a boat.

So should governments be legislating around DR/BC, and how far should they be taking it? Should it be specific key sectors or all-embracing? After all they have forced everyone to take out motor insurance, so why not disaster insurance for companies?

But taking the motoring analogy a step further, where it is a Government’s responsibility to provide the best possible roads for motorists to drive on, so is it its responsibility, via its telecommunications sectors, to ensure there is enough bandwidth available to transfer data across the region.

At the end of the day it is no good having your disaster site located next door to you because you haven’t got the communications infrastructure to take it right offsite to the next emirate or even the next continent. That’s another recipe for disaster.
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