The Business Continuity Institute World Conference and Exhibition held November 11 to 12 in Hammersmith, England, provided educational programs to more than 300 delegates. The conference used an interesting combination of traditional breakout sessions and technical discussion in an exhibit area that featured 45 vendors. The technical sessions included topics on cloud technology, standards, risk management, pandemic preparedness, introducing business continuity (BC)/disaster recovery (DR) to corporate cultures and strategies to get BC/DR plans certified.
Keynote speaker Sir Bob Geldof talked about the importance of rapid communications in today's climate of change. "Businesses are struck by the impact of change, such as climate change and changes resulting from disasters," said Geldof. "They must have, integral to their systems and their working lives, the ability for instant communication with everyone they need, and immediately if necessary. We live in a beehive society in which each individual passes on information to the group, and receives information back from the group as well as many other sources." He also added, "Change only works when it is aligned with the needs of society. And mass communication must be aligned to the needs of society today."
Cloud technology and disaster recovery processes
In a session on cloud technology, consultant Paul Maloney described cloud technology as an evolution of the Internet and how its capabilities have been expended by many vendors to provide a wide range of managed services, such as Software as a Service (SaaS) and a variety of data protection services. Maloney described how cloud technology could impact business continuity. "We now see that broad access to cloud technology, especially when equipped for data storage, makes it easy for businesses of any size to expand their data protection efforts," he said. "Cloud recovery solutions are rapidly emerging, and we expect them to evolve into key strategies of an organization's disaster recovery process during 2010." He cautioned delegates to screen their vendors carefully, check references and test proposed arrangements before buying a cloud recovery product.
More on disaster recovery planning and management
Disaster recovery and business continuity standards
Several sessions on business continuity standards provided timely updates on developments associated with British Standard BS 25999. David Adamson with the British Standards Institution said, "At the BSI we are delighted at the worldwide acceptance of BS 25999, but of course we are always looking to improve 25999 and also develop new standards, particularly in the areas of IT service management and emergency management."
Other topics that sparked interest were developments in ISO standards, in particular the ISO 223XX series. Ian Charters, managing director of Continuity Systems Limited, suggested the ISO223XX series may evolve into a global business continuity standard. The members of the ISO 223XX family include the following:
- ISO 22300 -- Glossary
- ISO 22301 -- Specification for continuity management systems
- ISO 22320 -- Command, control, coordination and cooperation
- ISO 22321 -- Information and data requirements for command and control
- ISO 22322 -- Warning procedures
- ISO 22397 -- Public-private partnerships
- ISO 22398 -- Guide to exercising and testing
- ISO 22399 -- Guidelines for the preparation of continuity management systems.
Charters also offered a cautionary note, "Despite all the work currently being done by the ISA and the TC 223 Committee, we're not likely to see what could be called a "final" ISO business continuity standard for as much as another five years."
Introducing BC/DR to corporate cultures
One of the most daunting challenges for business continuity/disaster recovery professionals is to have their BC/DR programs accepted and used by their company, according to Chris Needham-Bennett, CEO of Needhams 1834. "BC professionals need to do six things to help their programs gain acceptance," he said. "They include relating the BC/DR program to the company's business objectives, establishing metrics to measure program acceptance, using language the staff can understand, identifying and understanding existing attitudes and values, securing senior management acceptance and recognizing that this is an ongoing process."
Obtaining certification in BS 25999
The BS 25999 certificate is gaining in popularity worldwide, and with this, organizations can gain formal accreditation of their business continuity program. Currently this is performed primarily by the British Standards Institution (BSI). Malcolm Cornish of Continuity Systems Limited explained the process of obtaining the BS 25999 certificate. "The process begins with an initial inquiry, receipt of price quotation, submitting an application to the BSI, detailed assessment of the candidate firm's BC program, and certification that the program complies with BS 25999," explained Cornish. Once that has been completed, he said, the BSI evaluates the application and awards the credential to the successful candidate.
According to Lorraine Darke, executive director of the BCI, "The BCM industry is in a bullish mood as we head into 2010." She added, "We are excited that the World Conference is now firmly established in the industry calendar." Next year's BCI's World Conference and Exhibition will be November 10 to 11, again in Hammersmith, England.