Funding is limited, solution choices are not

As government officials look for technology to fortify operations and satisfy federal business continuity requirements, they have to sort through newer emergency preparedness offerings and classic backup and disaster recovery solutions.

New technology options are filtering into basic business continuity decisions such as the backup of agency voice telecommunications networks, which can now be bolstered with voice over IP for routine or emergency use, or both.

Voice over IP "can provide an incredible level of disaster recovery support," said Julie Siler, director of business continuity and emergency management services at EDS. For instance, Siler recalled the downed phone lines and inaccessible cellular resources that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack in New York City. However, the attack left much of the Internet infrastructure — and, thus, voice-over-IP applications — intact.

Indeed, comprehensive continuity planning exercises involve more than charts and spreadsheets. Newer collaborative software options are available, such as OpsPlanner, a package offered by OpWatch, based in Rockville, Md. OpsPlanner pulls business continuity planning, emergency management and notification services into a single Web-based environment using a pair of modules — Continuity Planner and Incident Manager.

For agency officials looking for a full-service backup site, major companies such as IBM Corp. offer facilities that stand ready for emergency use. IBM's disaster recovery center in Gaithersburg, Md., is outfitted with essential power and water services, and the company has a standing offer to hold vital record tapes and other storage media for agencies.

Business continuity solutions provider SunGard Availability Services boasts 50 mobile facilities nationwide for use during disasters. Harnessed to tractor-trailers, the units provide up to 50 users with equipment needed to plow forward with mission-critical operations in an emergency.

Many outsourcers also provide continuous online backup and electronic vaulting services, which provide constant access to business server data via network connections for instant access to mission-critical data during crises.

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