Safety Zone

Creating a shelter for data in a dangerous world.

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"You can't get this kind of bandwidth in Brazil, for example. With the data centers on two different continents, each with its own network links, we have a reliable, robust architecture and built-in redundancy," says Coulter.

Staffing Matrix

AES's IT staffers are geographically dispersed. To ensure that various units conform to standards for business continuity, all 45 of AES's distribution centers have full IT staffs, including an IT leader who reports to an IT council.

With power distribution businesses worldwide, Coulter's staff spends a lot of time working with idiosyncratic local government agencies that oversee utilities. In fact, he has a staff dedicated to the task. "In our business," he says, "it's a full-time job to work with local authorities."

In addition to local IT leaders, global companies must have one person who oversees business continuity and disaster recovery, says Protiviti's Bailey.

"Should you have foreign IT locations? The answer is an absolute yes, but how do you coordinate them? From a business-practice continuity perspective, there should be a single, overarching point person," he says.

This person should have responsibility for managing the disaster recovery process and ensuring that the three core elements of corporate business continuity management -- crisis management, business resumption and disaster recovery -- are met, in part through regular evaluation and testing, says Bailey.

"Each business unit should also own a recovery plan," he says. "One owner couldn't go in and know how that unit worked. The person managing the proc-ess, steering the ship, has to make sure people are in compliance with the overall plan."

As an IT infrastructure gains new hardware and software and as the business grows, evaluation of disaster recovery is crucial, says Advance's Tomei.

"We continually review and look at our disaster recovery plan to take into account how we can be better prepared," he says. "A disaster recovery plan is a living, breathing document. It's part of what we do."

Webster is a freelance writer in Providence, R.I. Contact him at

Special Report

Navigating Global IT

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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