Looming disaster: Ignore business continuity at your peril

helicopter drops fire retardant rescue emergency
Credit: Reuters

Summer is here in the Northern Hemisphere. While winter is approaching in the Southern Hemisphere. Wherever you are, expect trouble from the skies, oceans, rivers, even the ground itself. Through blizzards, cyclones, tornadoes, heat waves, floods, earthquakes, and more, it seems the entire planet is conspiring against IT departments to keep their enterprises running.

With natural disasters inevitable, protecting data should be a priority for all companies. If you've got a big data project underway, that means protecting your big data too.

If you believe the data, the risks associated with disasters–both natural and man-made–are increasing in number, ferocity, and cost. In 2010 insurers paid out $43 billion in claims due to disasters, dwarfing the $27 billion in 2009 losses. And, according to Swiss Re, the costs to the global economy from 2010's year of "extreme weather events" and earthquakes were a mind-boggling $218 billion, up from a "mere" $68 billion in 2009. This year, in addition to the myriad floods, typhoons, and other natural disasters, insurers will have to add the horrific earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan into their calculations.

It's also possible that these losses due to natural disasters will accelerate in the coming years. According to a report from the Munich Re Group, scientific evidence suggests that climate change will increase the power and impact of both tropical storms and heat waves. "The projections are," the report's authors conclude, "that this trend induced by global warming will continue in the future."

Unlike some business operations that are physically rooted to a particular geographic location, such as a power plant, IT has the luxury of being able to run its side of the business, at least temporarily, from almost anywhere. It can deliver services through offsite disaster recovery sites or through cloud-based alternatives. Yet, according to a specialized expertise and technology to implement them properly. But they are critical. And they are an absolute requirement for today's business environment because the outside environment can wipe you out in an instant.

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