Survivors Demonstrate How to Endure Disasters

By CIOinsight  |  Posted 07-07-2005
Unlike other items in their IT budgets, corporations spend money on disaster-recovery planning in hopes that it will be wasted.

Unfortunately, sometimes it's not.

The most extreme examples of disaster recovery followed the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, which not only killed entire departments at financial companies such as Cantor Fitzgerald but also burned a hole through the communications infrastructure of almost every major company that does business in New York.

This week's tragic attacks in London caused nothing like the corporate disruption that followed Sept. 11. But they did remind corporate IT managers who might have become complacent that time and money spent on disaster recovery really is wasted—right up until the second they become indispensable.

Here, we present the experience of many of the companies that recovered from Sept. 11 and from other, more mundane disasters. The lessons they learned and the strategies they developed offer insights into building effective plans to keep a disaster from becoming a catastrophe.

Story Guide:
Where to Start: After the Disaster: A 2000 Gartner survey estimated that 60 percent of companies have no disaster plan. Big mistake. Here's a set of techniques and priorities that will give you a blueprint from which to work.

Cantor Fitzgerald: 47 Hours:Cantor Fitzgerald lost more people and systems than any other company. Here's how it happened, and how its people responded.

Staying Alert: Three years after the tragedy on Sept. 11, Cantor Fitzgerald uses pop quizzes to make sure it's ready for any disaster it could face.

The People Principle: Infrastructure isn't the only thing you lose in a disaster. Your plans have to differ based partly on how many people are affected. Here are a range of response options.

  • The 10 Percent Solution
  • The 25 Percent Solution
  • The 50 Percent Solution

    Expert Voice: Lewis M. Branscomb on Fighting Terrorism: The National Academies' working group on counterterrorism picked out the systems and infrastructures that are critical to surviving terrorist attacks.

    Rethinking Risk: Spending on business continuity hasn't consistently increased, according to our survey. But most organizations have put companywide security procedures in place and consider themselves a lot more prepared.

    Managing the Unthinkable: Some CIOs say they're discovering the limits that the economy and the nature of their operations are placing on what they can do, realistically, to make their organizations less vulnerable to disaster.

    Tsunami Disaster Defeats High-Tech Recovery Effort: Sometimes recovery is elusive, even when the resources of much of the world are directed at one big problem.

    Keeping Disneyland Safe: Theme parks are among the most exposed targets available. But the Mouse is on guard, along with the Anaheim police and fire departments, the California National Guard and the FBI.