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Disaster Planning & Recovery: A Challenge for CIOs
Disaster Planning & Recovery: A Challenge for CIOs

By Jennifer LeClaire
April 7, 2010 10:40PM

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Most CIOs this year are faced with limited budgets, yet the mandate to be ready for anything remains in tact. Disaster planning is essential, as we have been reminded so often lately by news of earthquakes, hurricanes and floods around the world. New solutions for server consolidation and data backup, as well as cloud computing, can help.

One of the top challenges for CIOs continues to be disaster preparedness -- ensuring that the organization has consolidated its systems with a reliable backup plan, to be ready if and when disaster strikes.

While the number one priority of any disaster plan is to ensure the safety of your staff and others, the next priority is to ensure the safety of the business itself. Securing your data during the disaster and ensuring business continuity is key.

Data-Center Challenges

According to Hewlett-Packard research, organizations have been adding data-center equipment to keep pace with business growth for the past two decades. These additions, in turn, have created costly technology silos that consume up to 70 percent of the IT budget. What's more, solving the issue of IT sprawl is expected to create a $35 billion market opportunity by 2012 for converged infrastructure solutions.

With this in mind, Magdy Assem, senior director of HP Enterprise Business solutions, believes that 2010 will be the year for promising technologies that create a converged infrastructure -- solutions that unify computing, storage and network assets and allow customers to make the most efficient use of technology resources.

"A converged infrastructure consolidates technology assets into pools of resources, which can be leveraged on the fly, managed universally, and optimized for any workload," Assem said. In addition, a converged infrastructure, can be critical for recovery after a disaster. Working with a unified system and converged infrastructure simplify data backup and recovery, when needed.

Securing the Cloud

Cloud computing removes typical barriers by placing data in a central, easily accessible location, as more organizations store sensitive data with third-party cloud service providers. While this is instrumental in creating new connections, it also means relinquishing control -- the location of data can vary and data management may be more challenging.

In fact, according to a recent IDC report, security remains the top concern with regards to cloud adoption. In 2010, Assem predicts enterprises will be looking to take advantage of SaaS (software as a service) solutions with a higher degree of confidence in the security -- as well as the health and availability -- of applications running in the cloud.

"Typically, a cloud-service environment includes standard terms and conditions that are not tailored to an organization's unique security needs. Many cloud-service providers make no promises about protecting data," Assem said. "Therefore, it is critical for organizations that consider moving to the cloud to understand the risks involved. Certainly, security is a top concern when it comes to cloud computing."

As Assem sees it, part of the solution is for companies to know where their data is, how it's protected, and who can access it. But since many cloud-service providers offer no service-level agreements, enterprises have no guarantees about data availability, privacy or data protection.

"Cloud computing doesn't have to be rife with risk. With the right service provider, the cloud can fulfill its promise of more affordable, flexible and easier-to-manage IT services," Assem said. "However, a lot depends on the preparation and choice of service providers. In order to take advantage of cloud-computing services, IT needs to move toward a 'service-centric' model and apply basic risk-analysis principles."

The key, as always, is to understand the unique needs and challenges of your own organization. Using a structured approach, consolidated systems, and reliable backup, your organization will become more efficient while also being disaster prepared.

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