Going for gold in business continuity

Business of IT: London 2012 has the potential to bring serious disruption to some companies, making now a good a time to update business continuity plans.

"The Olympic planning piece is very London-centric," says Adam Stringer, an IT specialist at PA Consulting.

"But the advice to move your IT away from people is valuable. Companies have already been focused on moving IT away from head office, for cost reasons," he explains.

"Expensive floor space should not be taken up by technology, but you can also create a recovery strategy, and de-risk the business, by moving systems away from city centres."

A number of London-based organisations, including local councils, have been building up their remote IT facilities over past 18 months, taking advantage of virtualisation and replication technologies to move data and workloads over to new datacentres and the cloud.

"We have done a lot of work with the public sector and local government bodies that will be directly or indirectly affected by the Games," says Andy Ebbs, solution architect at Vision Solutions, a business continuity vendor. "But awareness [of the need for BCP] has been on the rise for some time, and that has also been prompted by other events, such as the Jubilee."

It is not just the prospect of a serious disaster that is prompting businesses to do so. Organisations may find that accessing sites in the capital or east London during the games is difficult enough to disrupt routine support and maintenance.

IT consultants are advising businesses to enter into a "lock down" period during the Games, as no-one will want to be offline because a planned upgrade fails.

Keith Tilley, UK managing director at SunGard Availability Services, says there is a longer-term trend for companies to take business continuity more seriously.

"They are investing more, but they are also more confident in what they are doing," he says. "They are doing a lot more testing but they are also finding they need to be more available."

This is being driven by regulation, especially in fields such as financial services, and health. And larger companies, which have gone through a business continuity planning process themselves, have been putting pressure on their suppliers to boost their own plans for a number of years.

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