Ensuring total availability and continuous operation of vital business systems and critical data –­ bulletproofing against potential failures related to disasters, crashes, sabotage, maintenance and other anomalies –­ tops the list of urgent considerations for today's enterprises, large and small. When vital corporate concerns such as sales revenue, customer service and employee productivity are dependent on integral dynamic data and associated repositories (data warehouses, data marts, operational data store structures, etc.), the utmost must be done to prevent and respond to unexpected system degradation and outages. Experience has shown that far too few organizations properly manage the risk associated with downtime of urgent systems and warehouses. For many companies, it would take "days or longer" to recover lost or damaged enterprise data. This sort of time to recovery is unacceptable. Business continuity should be treated as business survival. Let us confront some of the issues associated with proper business continuity (BC) practices ­– expounding on both technology and business areas of interest.

A business continuity plan is meant to encompass the whole business –­ not just key network, database and application areas. It should not be limited in scope to information technology (IT) considerations! Remember that IT exists to fortify and enhance the multitude of business operations that must be maintained in times of crisis. Technological decisions in support of continuous operations must not be made in a vacuum. In other words, IT continuity is a subset of BC. Business functions and IT functions must carefully collaborate and complement each other. Business continuity is a shared effort between business management and IT management, across departments and business lines, where all stakeholders must express and understand the criticality of data, systems, business process and the overall mission of BC. Only when the benefit and value of a BC effort is demonstrated to and understood by executive sponsors and strongly aligned with overall business objectives can seminal questions be asked. "What-if" questions (about such things as projected lost revenue per hour in sales applications, minimum historical data required for customer service and field representatives to function, legal liability and so forth) cannot be effectively answered without close cooperation and identification of "pain points" between the business and IT.

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