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Editor's Letter: Move Disaster Recovery to the Top of Your List

IT disasters can change things in an instant -- let this be your wake-up call.

At the House of LaRose, a motherboard burned out and brought all of the distributor's systems to a crashing halt. Like many IT disasters, this one wasn't brought on by an earthquake, hurricane or tsunami -- though depending on your location, those events may be just as likely to broadside your business and everyone who works for you. But it is the unexpected on a smaller scale that most of us will encounter at some point in our lifetimes.

The House of LaRose got lucky -- it found a replacement part pretty quickly. Yet the event was a catalyst for the company to create a disaster recovery plan, the lack of which could have doomed the business, as Dan Brinegar tells us ("Roadmap to Recovery").

Gartner says half of all midsized organizations have weak disaster recovery plans. The LifeGift Organ Donation Center was once in that group. It relied on a plan to truck its servers to a site a few hundred miles away. Only after managing to do this during Hurricane Rita did it realize how risky it was to rely on clear roads to keep operations running. I've heard many midsized businesses describe a regional DR plan, which goes to hell if a natural disaster occurs.

As I write this, it happens to be 9/11, an occasion like no other to reflect on how life can change in an instant. This year I have seen fire, illness and other events affect lives of those around me. It's so clear that on both personal and professional levels, we need action plans, yet we are often remiss when it comes to creating them. We plan to take care of things when we have downtime, when that project is done, when we have finally made that last staff hire. On the boards are succession plans, escape routes, documents that outline objectives and plans for system uptime.

Lots of wake-up calls are too late, and there's no recovery. So let's make a deal: I'll get going on my part -- I'm as guilty as anyone -- and you turn to "Roadmap to Recovery". Then get the wheels in motion to evaluate whatever plan you have, test it and keep it fresh. Don't forget people and process. And then if the unspeakable happens, we'll all have something to fall back on.

Anne McCrory is editorial director of CIO Decisions and the CIO Decisions conference. Write to her at amccrory@ciodecisions.com.

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