Many Unprepared for BT Disaster Recovery

Disaster strikes. Your primary place of business is destroyed by a fire tomorrow, are you prepared to recover? According to the historical statistics, fires permanently close 44 percent of the businesses that are affected.

Business continuity planning is the creation and validation of a practiced logistical plan for how an organization will restore interrupted critical functions within a predetermined time after a disaster or extended disruption.

Business Technology survivability is an imperative for many organizations that operate in the global networked economy, yet some are unprepared for a natural disaster. Cisco recently shared the results of an insightful nationwide survey.

Informed, but Otherwise Unprepared
The market study uncovered that while many organizations appreciate the increased employee productivity and other benefits offered by laptop computers, smart phones and virtual private networks, they may be unprepared to enable the majority of their employees to effectively telecommute.

Without the proper networking infrastructures to support remote work by a high percentage of their employees, these organizations will be unable to maintain their operations should their team be blocked from coming into the office for an indefinite period.

The telework preparedness survey, conducted by InsightExpress for Cisco, interviewed 502 information technology decision makers from U.S. businesses of all sizes. The survey questioned IT professionals in the health care, retail, finance, government and education sectors.

Highlights from the study include:
  • 53 percent of the of the IT executives surveyed said that less than half their employees were currently enabled to work remotely; 21 percent said that they have no employees enabled to work remotely.
  • Asked why more employees didn't have access to technology that would enable them to work outside the office, 38 percent said that business requirements did not necessitate it.
  • Only 22 percent of the respondents believe that their current remote-access solutions have positioned their companies for disaster preparedness and business continuity.
  • Just 15 percent of the respondents listed 'pandemic or other disaster preparedness' as a top business driver for providing remote access to employees, and only 5 percent listed it as the primary business driver.
Service Providers Offering Guidance
The results indicate that the majority of companies are not considering the importance of remote-access solutions for potential business interruptions -- focusing more on business technology needs under normal conditions.

In most cases, the cost to implement secure remote access across an entire workforce is a fraction of what the loss of business would be if employees could not work remotely during a crisis. Contact a managed service provider to learn more about the best-fit solution for your particular business needs.

New Normal: Bold IT-Based Business Agility

European business leaders believe their companies are more vulnerable to IT-enabled market disruptions than companies in other parts of the world, according to a new market study by McKinsey & Company.

McKinsey found that 74 percent of European business leaders believed their company was 'very' or 'extremely' exposed to IT-based market disruption. Regardless, only 18 percent of European IT executives believed their companies were 'very effective' at introducing business technology faster and better than their competitors.

According to the McKinsey assessment, European companies need to grasp the opportunity to make bold, transformative moves to ensure their business continues to thrive within the "New Normal" environment of ICT-empowered borderless commerce.

A significant number of businesses have recognized the need to adapt, with 31 percent of European executives saying the development of new products and services in response to changing consumption patterns was a high priority.

'Good Enough' isn't a Winning Strategy
McKinsey believes that the attitude of European business leaders towards IT must shift. Organizations have achieved 'satisfactory' results by attaining some success in improving IT productivity, operational productivity, or innovation.

However, the performance expectation bar is now much higher and "IT must truly excel in all of these dimensions to support a winning company." McKinsey's guidance for European companies includes:
  • Align IT and the business, upgrade business skills of IT leaders and close performance gaps.
  • Improve governance models to facilitate joint decision making and strategic planning between IT and the business.
  • Fundamentally restructure the IT function to dramatically improve productivity.
  • Transform the company's operating model and cost structure with IT-enabled business processes.
  • Enable transformative moves by promoting a mindset that fosters and rewards experimentation with new ideas.
  • Identify opportunities for IT-enabled innovations and be prepared to respond to competitors' disruptive moves.
Outlook: Prepare for More of the Same
McKinsey says companies have begun to recognize that the current recession is not simply another turn of the business cycle but a restructuring of the economic order -- and that they need to look beyond relieving short-term cost pressures.

In summary, the current economic environment should be treated as the benchmark conditions for the foreseeable future. Where's the upside opportunity? Become that 'agent' of change.

McKinsey research has shown that downturns are times when industry leadership often changes. Forty-eight percent of global IT companies and 40 percent of U.S. industrial companies that were leaders before the 2000-01 recession did not retain their leadership positions afterward.

A Managed Service Antidote to Organic IT

The accelerating Organic IT phenomenon is being driven by executive frustration that today's business technology demands are not being fully met by their internal support organization. Some IT teams, however, have taken decisive action to free-up time to become more responsive to their savvy user's requests for new capabilities.

Perhaps that's a key leading indicator why remote managed services have emerged as a rare growth area within this tough economic environment. Clearly, proactively increasing business process agility and cutting operational costs has never been more popular.

As a result, annual spending on remote managed IT services by the North American Small and Medium Business (SMB) sector is expected to increase 3.3 times in the next five years. That represents a compounded annual growth rate of 28 percent, according to the latest market study by AMI-Partners.

Extracting Value from Business Technology
"While SMBs have been steadily increasing their reliance on IT over the last several years, they have always been challenged in managing their growing IT infrastructures. The severe economic conditions of the last one year have forced SMBs to look for more cost effective ways to manage their IT. Remote managed services offered by 3rd parties provide 24/7 availability of critical IT infrastructure -- without increasing the need for internal IT staff," according to Anil Miglani, SVP of IT Infrastructure and Managed Services at AMI.

Apparently, SMBs increasingly use remote IT services to selectively out-task critical areas like security and storage, while others are now extending the use of remote services to manage PCs, servers, networks, communications equipment and various other business technology devices.

Yet, many more businesses could benefit from a managed service solution. "Of the total installed base of 60 million PCs and 8 million servers in North America, only a tiny fraction is currently managed remotely," says Miglani.

Enabled by Cloud-Based Infrastructure
Managed service providers are increasingly offering remote managed services to better serve their customers with fewer resources. While some deliver remote services from their own infrastructures, others have started relying on cloud-based infrastructure solutions.

"By using automated software to remotely monitor and manage their customer's infrastructures, solution providers have increased their productivity while also improving their service levels," according to Melissa Chong, Senior Research Analyst at AMI and chief architect of the study.

The potential growth of this market is also attracting several new types of providers like telecom companies, IT vendors, distributors, retailers and online resellers in the SMB IT services market -- currently dominated by local channel partners.

Given the diverse nature of the SMB market, AMI believes that vendor channel partners will continue to play a critical role, as more IT organizations willingly embrace the out-tasked managed service delivery model now -- rather than react after Shadow IT has taken hold.

The Virtual Computing Environment Coalition

Worldwide spending on data center technology infrastructure and services exceeds $350 billion annually, according to McKinsey and Company estimates, with half of that spent on capital expenses and half on operating expenses.

Further, an estimated 70 percent or more of those costs are expended to maintain existing infrastructures, leaving 30 percent or less for new technology initiatives and applications that can provide breakthrough differentiation for businesses.

It is also estimated that approximately $85 billion, or 20 percent of this total market, can be addressed with data center virtualization and private cloud technology by 2015.

Cisco and EMC, together with VMware, have introduced the Virtual Computing Environment coalition, an unprecedented collaboration of three information technology (IT) industry leaders.

Virtual Computing Environment Coalition Charter
The coalition has been created to accelerate customers' ability to increase business agility through greater IT infrastructure flexibility, and lower IT, energy and real estate costs through pervasive data center virtualization and a transition to private cloud infrastructures.

Cisco, EMC and VMware have worked closely over the past year on a shared vision for the future of enterprise IT infrastructure -- private cloud computing. A private cloud is a virtual IT infrastructure that is securely controlled and operated solely for one organization.

It can be managed either by that organization or a third party, and it can exist on- or off-premise -- or in combination. Private cloud computing offers the controls and security of today's data center with the agility required for business innovation at substantially lower costs.

The Virtual Computing Environment coalition offers organizations of all sizes an accelerated approach to data center transformation with dramatic efficiencies that promise significant reductions in both capital and operating expenses. As a result, organizations will no longer have to choose between best-of-breed technologies and end-to-end vendor accountability.

Ecosystem Collaboration
and Open Innovation
The Virtual Computing Environment coalition already has partners committed to the coalition. This includes representation from the entire partner ecosystem, including systems integrators, value added resellers, service providers, and independent software vendors.