The changes to business continuity/disaster recovery (BC/DR) driven by the many trends impacting telecom and IT have been significant - and quite positive. There simply are more tools available than there were a generation ago.
The NationalJournal, perhaps because of the start of the hurricane season, offers a well-done story looking at the impact of social media on emergency preparedness. The story keys off the devastating tornados that hit Joplin, Mo., just over a year ago. Despite the fact the piece is aimed at consumers, there is nothing in it that isn't appropriate for businesses, especially smaller ones.
The piece tells of how Facebook was used to alert people of the impending storms. It suggests that The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is a bit behind in its use of social media, but that it is moving in the right direction:
The agency is using established social-media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, to push out information, but it still faces challenges in interacting with independent social-media users in a disaster. "Traditionally, public information officers have a comfort level with specific credentialed news outlets," Fugate said. FEMA must still convince longtime professionals to expand their view of media relations to include social media.
The business view is presented in this NewsFactor piece, which details a study by AT&T. The study found a 12 percent increase in business continuity planning. The total now is 83 percent. The study said that 86 percent have a plan in place, an increase of 8 percent over the past half-decade. New technologies are being put to good use by these organizations:
Mobile security services and cloud computing have become major parts of current contingency plans, according to the study. Sixty percent of respondents are investing in mobile security services, and 38 percent are making investments in cloud computing.
Network Computing's story on the survey adds that 40 percent of respondents are investing or are considering to invest in cloud computing for disaster recovery.
ZDNet reports on a Symantec study that says about one-third of companies with five to 250 employees who use public or private clouds for backup do so to be prepared for a data disruption. The company said that this is a "moderate to large" driver of these services. The other major driver, the story says, is to better support mobile workers.
The bottom line is simple: There are a lot of new tools in the hands of organizations. These extend from those under purely IT control, such as virtualization, to user-driven social networking and mobility. Each of these brings a dimension to BC/DR that was absent before. Companies that don't have plans should make them and prominently include cloud, virtualization, mobility and social networks in those blueprints. Those that have plans but don't include these new approaches should rewrite them accordingly.