After 9/11: Waking Up to Disaster Recovery

Arthur Cole
Slide Show

Five Disaster Recovery Tips for Businesses

New tips that can help businesses protect their data and recover quickly from disasters.

The attacks of 9/11 were senseless acts of violence that did nothing to further the goals of the fanatics who claim to speak for an entire people. But despite the tragic loss of life on that day, the United States has proven to all that it still retains the resiliency, commitment to freedom and capacity to adapt to changing circumstances that had propelled it to greatness over the previous 200 years.

For those of us working in the IT industry, the attacks produced a laser-like focus on the area of disaster recovery, turning what once was a small cottage industry into a primary enterprise function. Along the way, it has been one of the primary drivers of the two most significant changes to hit the worldwide data environment since its creation: virtualization and the cloud.

As eWeek's Chris Preimsberger highlighted this week, we've come a long way from the mainframe and tape backup systems of the late 1990s. Back then, the storage process itself, let alone the recovery, was a much more tedious affair due to the slowness of network infrastructure and the limited capacity of available storage media. After 9/11, and again following Hurricane Katrina, venture capital flooded into these and other technologies with the intent to devise a means to maintain business continuity under even the most dire circumstances.

That trend continues to this day, as disaster recovery technology permeates all levels of enterprise data technology. Intel, for example, recently poured $5 million into data management software developer DynamicOps. The company specializes in virtual and cloud management tools aimed at automating complicated tasks like DR and VM provisioning.

Unlike past periods of technological development, however, the post-9/11 era was not centered around building bigger, more powerful systems, said Computerworld's Lucas Mearian. Rather, the overriding goal was flexibility so that data would find its way from source to destination one way or another. This ethos has taken hold not only in the business world, but in the municipal and public service sectors as well.

The simple fact was that before 9/11, the threat of a major loss of data and/or enterprise capability was not taken very seriously, according to IDG's Grant Gross. Firms based in New York and other northeastern U.S. cities in particular had little to fear from natural disasters like earthquakes and tornadoes, so they never steeled themselves for a major loss. Nowaday's, nearly every-sized business has some sort of contingency plan for the unthinkable - even if some of these plans are more fleshed out than others.

It would be trite to say that better disaster preparedness is the silver lining on the 9/11 cloud. The fact that the American spirit, and that of the Western world in general, persevered and even thrived in the ensuing decade is evidence enough that even severe acts of violence will not diminish the United States' role as a force of good in the world.

Data technology is a vital tool in that pursuit, and is no longer taken for granted by those who rely on it.

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