Disaster Recovery Turns Wireless & Cloudy

Cloud computing and mobility aren't just buzzwords in the services space -- they're also hot topics where business continuity and disaster recovery are concerned.

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) this week released the results of its annual survey of businesses to determine how prepared they are for disaster-related service interruptions. The survey shows that 63 percent of businesses are including wireless networks as part of their disaster-recovery/business-continuity plans, and 77 percent said employee use of mobile devices plays a role in those plans. (See AT&T Finds More Disaster Preparation.)

Half of those surveyed have moved to a virtualized computing infrastructure, and 38 percent have a business continuity plan for such an infrastructure.

Those numbers are likely to increase, says Chris Costello, assistant vice president, AT&T Hosting and Cloud Services, for AT&T Business Solutions.

"Of the people surveyed, 72 percent are investing in new technologies, and they very much include larger investments in the mobility space and virtual services and cloud computing and security -- those are the big trends," Costello says.

Mobility is on the rise in general, as more business applications are delivered over smartphones and wireless-enabled laptops, but mobile access can become the only means of communication when "normal" communication channels are knocked out. Cloud-based services represent a way for businesses to implement business continuity plans while limiting their capital investment in backup facilities, according to Costello.

"We have managed mobility solutions in that we are able to offer to customers a sure means of communication, whether it is voice or texting between employees. That allows critical information to be shared around work locations, such as instructions on how to serve customers or work with employees and suppliers."

The managed services approach enables a CIO to implement company-wide policies covering mobile devices and even use of those devices in the event of a natural or manmade disaster, Costello says.

"Increasingly, we see CIOs driving a mobile strategy that is company-wide."

Cloud-based disaster recovery services are attractive because they can be pre-built and available, Costello asserts, but only paid for when needed. (See AT&T Joins Cloud Computing Set.)

"IT systems can be expensive to run, and if they sit idle and are only used for testing or in the event of a disaster, then that is a bigger burden on capex."

Disaster recovery is one of many uses that businesses are finding for cloud computing, even if they aren't moving their core operations into the cloud, according to Costello. Those include using the cloud for testing and development, and to archive or backup data.

"Customers may choose to leverage a service provider's cloud computing platform to handle a batch job overnight or use the service provider cloud for end-of-the-month number crunching or instantaneous access to additional resources whenever they are needed."

AT&T's annual survey shows that more businesses have put a disaster-recovery/business-continuity plan in place and are testing it: 83 percent have a plan (up 14 percent in the past five years), and just over half have tested that plan.

Experience has obviously been a good teacher where disaster recovery is concerned -- executives in the Gulf Coast area may now be more likely to have fully tested their survival plans.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

shygye75 12/5/2012 | 4:34:36 PM
re: Disaster Recovery Turns Wireless & Cloudy

How much protection does adding a wireless component to disaster recovery plans really afford? I know of two actual disasters in the New York area -- Hurricane Floyd in September 1999 and the terrorist attacks in September 2001  -- where wireless services failed for significant periods of time. Backup systems like point-to-point microwave could be useful for disaster recovery, but how does that do anything for workers with smartphones?

cnwedit 12/5/2012 | 4:34:32 PM
re: Disaster Recovery Turns Wireless & Cloudy

I actually asked AT&T about that and part of their disaster recovery plan is to bring in cellsites on wheels and cells on light wheels, as well as cellphone recharging stations, to restore wireless service or keep it running in the event of a disaster.

shygye75 12/5/2012 | 4:34:32 PM
re: Disaster Recovery Turns Wireless & Cloudy

Let's hope they've made some improvements in their ability to enact that plan over the past few years.

Larry, Monkey 12/5/2012 | 4:34:30 PM
re: Disaster Recovery Turns Wireless & Cloudy

Cellists on wheels? Whatever good will that do?

shygye75 12/5/2012 | 4:34:27 PM
re: Disaster Recovery Turns Wireless & Cloudy

It might have been a life-changer for Virgil Starkwell:



Larry, Monkey 12/5/2012 | 4:34:26 PM
re: Disaster Recovery Turns Wireless & Cloudy

I played glass harp in the HS marching band. It was a challenge.

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