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  1. A Not-So-Rhetorical Question
  2. Technology Changes Your Job, and Vice Versa
  3. Overview of Past Paradigm Shifts in Disaster Recovery
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Overview of Past Paradigm Shifts in Disaster Recovery

As a preface for the next two articles in this series, consider the history discussed in Table 1, in which business processes advanced, new technologies were introduced, and recovery standards for backing up that technology changed. After you have an understanding of this evolution, we'll postulate our arguments in the second article of this series. Part 2 will expound on why we believe that the paradigm has shifted, and why today's serious recovery planners should be taking an active role in planning for natural disasters. Assuming that we get you to buy into our arguments, part 3 provides some affordable tips and resources for improving your planning to include addressing natural disasters.

Table 1 High-Level Evolution of Private-Sector Disaster Recovery in the U.S.: Motivations, Causes, and Effects




Military development of the concept of command, control, and communications (C3).


Continued refinement of C3, but the Cold War standoff demands that decisions be made more quickly than humans can achieve. This calls for the addition of computers to the concept of C3, resulting in the concept of 4Ci.


First commercial computer (mainframe) recovery centers, as the private sector begins to demand backup, restoration, and recovery technologies.


First best practices (a.k.a. operating and security standards) for mainframe computers used in the private sector.


First intensive and widespread use of commercial telecommunications to link mission-critical mainframe applications. Initially, these were private-line circuits; later came packet technologies such as frame relay and switched multi-megabit data services (SMDS).


Publication of Disaster Recovery Planning for Telecommunications by Leo A. Wrobel (Artech), which was one of the first books to document disaster-recovery standards for telecoms, applicable to the non-military private sector.


Intensive and widespread use of client/server topology to link mission-critical applications. Auditors go mad as mission-critical applications leave the relative security of the mainframe computer and spread directly to end-user desktops and servers.


Publication of Writing Disaster Recovery Plans for Telecommunications Networks and LANs by Leo A. Wrobel (Artech), which documents disaster-recovery standards for local area networks (LANs).


U.S. Telecom Reform Act of 1996 gives users the opportunity to buy piece parts of telecom services such as dark fiber. Price of telecom services drops dramatically. "Native LAN" speed circuits (10–100 Mbs) replace T1/T3 in U.S., E1/E3 in Europe. Technology such as online televaulting becomes cost-effective, first utilized in the financial services sector. Publication of Understanding Emerging Network Services, Pricing, and Regulation by Leo A. Wrobel and Eddie M. Pope (Artech), which discusses these concepts.

September 11, 2001

World Trade Center attacks. Largest mass activation of computer recovery centers in history. Not everyone makes it into a recovery center; some businesses never recover. New legislation results in the establishment of numerous new agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration.

2001 to date

Continued focus on terrorism but also natural disasters. Rising awareness of global warming issues. Hurricanes Rita, Katrina, Gustav, Ike. Indian Ocean tsunami causes unprecedented destruction. Earthquakes in Chile, China, and elsewhere. Private sector realizes the need for a military level of 4Ci to activate complex recovery plans when the unthinkable happens. Prices for enabling technology (from VoIP to server hardware to telecommunications services) drop. Wireless access capability proliferates. Local number portability comes into being, with the potential capability to relocate entire area codes. Satellite communications become portable and affordable. Commercial companies specializing in 4Ci come into being for both command and control communications as well as backing up complex call centers and other operations.


Disaster Recovery Planning for Communications and Critical Infrastructure to be published by Artech House Books, the first operating and security standards and best practices for 4Ci. This book first suggests that the private sector bears some responsibility for natural disaster prevention.

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