More companies are trying to become real-time enterprises (RTEs); but in the race to get there, many enterprises are not implementing critical business continuity plans, according to Gartner, Inc.

Gartner analysts said less than 25 percent of Global 2000 enterprises have invested in comprehensive business continuity planning, and 50 percent have fully tested disaster-recovery plans. Gartner analysts presented these findings today during Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2002, which is taking place October 6 through October 11 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

"For many real-time enterprises, a four to 24-hour site outage would cause irreparable damage to the enterprise," said Donna Scott, vice-president and research director for Gartner. "Because the risks are greater with real-time enterprises, the business continuity plan must address new scenarios, and business continuity processes must integrate with a greater number of enterprise processes."

The foundations of business continuity planning success are senior management sponsorship and participation, and building business continuity into enterprise culture by weaving business continuity processes into the life cycle of every project. However, Gartner research shows that by 2007, less than 35 percent of large enterprises will build business process continuity into the project life cycle.

"With real-time enterprise applications, it is critical that business continuity be built into the life cycle for new applications and business process enhancement projects so that availability and recovery requirements are built into the architecture and design," said Scott.

To determine appropriate availability investments, enterprises need to understand the consequences of downtime, which will aid in justifying investments for operational availability and business continuity. A first step in developing a business continuity plan is performing a business impact analysis, where critical business processes are identified and prioritized, and costs of downtime are evaluated over time.

Traditional business continuity plans provide 24-to 72-hour application/business process recoverability. With technology more intrinsic and outage costs escalating, many enterprises need shorter recovery times for critical applications. High-availability techniques are escalating, especially for real-time enterprise applications, enabling enterprises to achieve recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs) in minutes, rather than days. Although rapid real-time enterprise recovery is expensive, the alternative could jeopardize an enterprise's survival.

"The most important activity on which an enterprise should embark is ensuring that regardless of what their spending is, it is spent in the right place -- to protect the most-critical business processes. Real-time enterprises cannot afford to accept risks associated with business continuity vulnerabilities -- the consequences could be fatal," Scott said.

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