Monday, January 23, 2012


Virtualization is NOT "business continuity"

The king's new clothes


Excuse me for failing "Political Correctness 101," but I'm a tad upset reading emails and headlines telling me data protection and virtualization is "business continuity."

I will concede that disaster recovery, and all its tools, is critical to a true business continuity plan.

But IT by itself, unless it is the organization's profit center is not the "business."

It is not even the business' most critical resource. *

I'm looking at a Web site that informs me the company - which for its own protection shall remain anonymous - shouts in 16 point Helvetica that it provides, quote, True Business Continuity and BDR Solutions, end quote. What it DOES provide is - and again I quote - Simple On- and Off-Site Backup, Virtualization in the Cloud, and On Site and Award-Winning Technology with Instant Virtualization.

I see nothing about protecting any business functions.

I was driven to this site by a sales rep for another company that, according to the rep, offers an "end-to-end business continuity solution" to IT Service Providers. I went to the company's URL and - to the company's credit - failed to find the magic words "business continuity" among the offer product "solutions." Backup and recovery, yes. Monitoring systems, yes. But business continuity, no.

Unfortunately, neither the sales rep nor the content writers for the site he recommended apparently have any conception of true business continuity.

Gregg Jacobsen, with whom I shared the sales rep's email, wondered "What do they recommend to protect the revenue stream and market share for their client if the factory catches fire?"

I think Mr. Jacobsen's question nicely sums up the difference between what the sales rep was promoting and the purpose of business continuity.

I have nothing against either the sales rep or any organization that peddles IT products and services.

But calling disaster recovery - or even "resiliency" - "business continuity" does no one any good.

The gullible executive - and I've met some - may BELIEVE what is on the table is a business continuity contract, but when the gullible exec is up that proverbial creek sans a means of propulsion, someone will realize that what our executive thought was "business continuity" in no way helps the business continue to stay in business.

Assume, if you will, that an event occurs at the facility - let's take Mr. Jacobsen's fire.

Let's further assume that the organization has all its data safely stored in a cloud for near-instant recovery.

That's wonderful, but if no one can access and use the data, of what value is it?

Perhaps if the cloud is accessible by staff working at alternate sites, but if we can make another assumption, no one considered an alternate site or virtual office options; the organization had, after all, a "business continuity" plan - a Web site said so.

If there was a fire in the facility , let it happen when the place was empty. The cloud "business continuity" plan lacks any information about evacuation and assembly, hopefully out of the way of flying debris and arriving fire department vehicles.

Even the folks behind the data center doors are on their own. The data is protected, but not the people manning the machines to transfer data to the cloud - or tape or the backup option du jour. THAT information would have been in an honest business continuity plan; it's not found in a cloud plan, no matter what it's called.

I think the only thing worse than calling an IT DR plan a "business continuity" plan is having a plan cobbled together by a novice armed with a template and check list.

At least with the cloud "business continuity" plan, most people can see the plan really is what it is - the king's new clothes. It is a plan to store data. Period. It has nothing to do with profit centers or non-data resources.

The novice's plan, on the other had, looks like a real business continuity plan and even though it probably is lacking more than it contains, it is a plan. If it ever is exercised someone might discover its deficiencies, but often when a person is plucked from their daily routine and dubbed "Official Business Continuity Planner" sans any relevant training, management has little intention of doing anything more with the plan than letting it gather dust on the shelf. For all that, having a plan gives a - in this case, false - sense of security.

Business continuity, properly practiced, can greatly enhance an organization's "survivability" in case of an event.

Business continuity that translates into "storing data in the cloud" is NOT business continuity, properly practiced or not.

It is an insult to the profession.


* People are an organization's most critical resource. If you don't believe me, try and run a business without staff and customers.

If I wrote it , you may quote it.

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