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Gill Blog

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Connecting Real Estate and Facilities with Business Continuity

Had an interesting discussion with a friend yesterday. We talked about the ongoing "Battle of the Enterprise Silos" (not to be mistaken for the landmark "Battle of the Network Stars"), a battle that asserts that either Business Continuity, Risk Management, Emergency Management, or Emergency Preparedness is at the top of the pecking order when it comes to enterprise, dare I say it, "risk" planning. The leaders from within these silos generally assume that their particular department is the umbrella function that covers all the others.

The answer, at least the one that I believe, is that all functions fall under a category called "risk mitigation" and that all of these functions co-exist along one continuum. Which leads me to an interesting article that was sent to me yesterday. Structured as a Q&A, it begins with the simple question:
What should be included in a "state of the art" business-continuity plan?

The answer seemed quite succinct:
A comprehensive business-continuity plan must enable you to survive as a legal and financial entity in case of disaster. To do this, the plan must address all of the key assets that are necessary to continue operations -- people, process, information, and facilities, as well as technology.

This article really demonstrated how wide planning has become, as well as how many functions play an important role. Given my background, I found it refreshing to see how the real estate or facilities component was handled:
The business-continuity plans of many enterprises deal with physical facility protection as just that -- protection. A state-of-the-art plan, however, should include having agreements in place for occupying other locations from which business can be conducted for an extended period of time.

...Backup facilities should be on different power and communications grids than your data center. To protect your day-to-day operations, you also should have redundant network connections, through different service providers. Authorized employees should have access through a virtual private network not only to E-mail, but to business applications.

Beyond this, it is also important to consider things such as the structural aspects of facilities that are used, how to strategically evaluate a portfolio of properties (which may result in acquisition/disposition activity), as well as setting up leases with third party facility providers for backup operations.

I could go on and on about this one, but something to be mindful of for sure when putting your own plans together.