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December 2007 | Volume 10/ Number 12
Disaster Preparedness

What the Future Will Bring

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

— George Santayana

The month of December combines two closely connected human philosophical processes 1) Reflections on past events 2) Reflections on what the New Year will bring. I guess we can call it a combination of Auld Lang Syne and Nostradamus. Depending on past memories and your outlook for the future, both reflective processes can either be pleasant or melancholy. As a personal and business goal, you should strive to use the past as a guide to create a bright future. One thing is certain - if you do not use past events as a model for business continuity planning, your business may not have a future and that is the primary focus of this month's column.

When looking at disaster or business continuity planning, companies can count on these events occurring somewhere on the planet in 2008:

1. Traditional Disasters - Forrest and brush fires, hurricanes, volcanoes, floods, tornados, tsunamis, earthquakes and blizzards.

2. 21st Century Disasters - Terrorism, epidemic illness, chemical contamination, technology failures and the unknown.

Now, we all realize that the above is an incomplete list but these are the most prominent events that come to mind when the word disaster is mentioned. Also, epidemics have been around for centuries but today's global economy and air travel make this threat more potent and today's Internet society depends on technology 24 x 7 so we have new forms of terrorism. Of course there are many other causes of business interruptions including building fires, a traffic accident taking down a utility pole and computer hacking. These latter examples are more localized but are major disasters for the local businesses affected and account for a significant proportion of business interruptions.

Disasters, although inevitable, are unpredictable, quite selective and you have no control over them. Business continuity planning, in contrast, is an undertaking where your company can have full control. Every business has different requirements and each must develop their own plan based on business objectives. The best starting point is to list each of your company's business processes and conduct a full risk assessment for each. Your company will then have to determine what level of interruption is acceptable. For example, critical operations such as support services may require a 7 x 24 communications network justifying a major outlay of resources. During short-term interruptions, functions such as sales and accounting operations that are not life critical or even critical to the survival of the enterprise, may not require a hot site failover plan. The next step is to develop a business continuity plan to be implemented over a defined and reasonable time period. Of course, it is highly recommended to bring in a professional firm specializing in business continuity to both ensure the quality of the plan and shorten the duration of the development process.

Fortunately, today's world makes this process much simpler than 10 years ago. VoIP, FoIP, SaaS, hosted services and related technologies all combine to make business continuity easier to implement, more reliable and much more affordable. Another opportune event is also making things easier - The Disaster Planning Pavilion at ITEXPO East 2008, January 23-25, 2008 at the Miami Beach Convention Center, Miami Beach, FL. The Pavilion's goal is to provide a central location for attendees interested in DPCF-related activities. Exhibiting companies will include application vendors, hosted services (VoIP, FoIP and contact centers), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and consulting services. Additional information on DPCF activities can be found on the TMC website at There may still be exhibit space available, so if you are interested in exhibiting, please contact: Joe Fabiano, Global Events Account Director, Tel. (203) 852-6800, ext. 132,

The DPCF has always operated as an open forum welcoming all contributors. If you would like to become an active member of the TMC/ECA Disaster Preparedness Communications Forum or participate in our pavilions, seminars or resource library (i.e. white papers, planning guides or case studies ), please contact Max Schroeder ( or

Max Schroeder is a board member of the ECA, media relations committee chairman, and liaison to TMC. He is also the Senior Vice President of FaxCore, Inc.

Rich Tehrani is the President and Group Editor-in-Chief at TMC and is Conference Chairman of Internet Telephony Conference & EXPO.

If you are interested in purchasing reprints of this article (in either print or PDF format), please visit Reprint Management Services online at or contact a representative via e-mail at or by phone at 800-290-5460.

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