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Business Continuity: The Importance of Data Availability to Business Operations

Business continuity is the ability of a business to continue to operate in the face of disaster. All functional departments within a company are involved in business continuity. Facilities management needs to be able to provide alternative buildings for workers. Manufacturing needs to develop ways of shifting work to outsourcers, partners, or other factories to make up for lost capacity. Planning and execution of a business continuity plan is an executive-level function that takes into account all aspects of business operations.

Information technology plays a key role in maintaining operations when disaster strikes. For most modern companies to function properly, communications must be restored quickly. Phone systems and e-mail are especially important, because they are primary communications media and usually are brought online first. After that, different systems are restored, depending on the needs of the business.

Protecting data and the access to it is a primary component of business continuity strategies. Restoring systems whose data has been destroyed is useless. What is the point of restoring the financial system if all the financial data has disappeared? IT, like other departments, needs to ensure that the data entrusted to it survives. In many cases, it is less important that the hardware systems themselves survive, so long as critical data does. If the data is still intact, new hardware can be purchased, applications reloaded, and operations restored. It might be a slow process, and there will be financial ramifications, but at least the business will eventually return to normalcy. Without the data, that will never happen.

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