As GRC practices continue to gain traction, I’ve had a lot of great conversations lately with clients about the importance of peer interaction for professionals in governance, risk, and compliance roles. With his finger apparently on the pulse of all major technology trends, Forrester’s Josh Bernoff must see this as well. This week he announced the winners of the 2009 Forrester Groundswell Awards, with two top GRC vendors among the winners. (For those of you not familiar with Josh Bernoff or Groundswell, check out the book info here.)
Two years ago, Forrester and the Disaster Recovery Journal partnered together to field surveys on a pair of pressing topics in Risk Management: Business Continuity (BC) and Disaster Recovery (DR). The surveys help highlight trends in the industry and to provide organizations with some statistical data for peer comparison. The partnership has been a huge success. In 2007, we examined the state of disaster recovery preparedness, in 2008, we examined the state of business continuity preparedness and this year, we examine the state of crisis communications and the interplay between enterprise risk management and business continuity.
We decided to focus on crisis communications because as last year’s study revealed, one of the lessons learned from organizations who had invoked a business continuity plan (BCP) was that they had greatly underestimated the importance and difficulty of communication and collaboration within and without the organization. In any situation, a natural disaster, a power outage, a security incident or even a corporate scandal, crisis communication is critical to responding quickly, managing the response and returning to normal operations.
Organizations approach crisis communication differently. In some organizations, crisis communications is a separate team that works together with BC/DR planning teams to embed communication strategies into BCPs/DRPs and in other companies, BC/DR planning teams do its best to address crisis communication.
Yesterday IBM announced the availability of their new IBM Information Archive Appliance. The appliance replaces IBM’s DR550. The new appliance has significantly increased scale and performance because it’s built on IBM’s Global Parallel File System (GPFS), more interfaces (NAS and an API to Tivoli Storage Manager) and accepts information from multiple sources – IBM content management and archiving software and eventually 3rd party software. Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) is embedded in the appliance to provide automated tiered disk and tape storage as well as block-level deduplication. TSM’s block-level deduplication will reduce storage capacity requirements and its disk and tape management capabilities will let IT continue to leverage tape for long-term data retention. All these appliance subcomponents are transparent to the IT end user who manages the appliance – he or she just sees one console where they define collections and retention policies for those collections.
Two weeks ago, I commented on the changing role of the risk management professional, and thought it would be worthwhile to spend a few moments discussing the auditor as well. In a contest of which job is likely to see more change in the next two years, I would expect a photo finish.
Even in the toughest times, winners will invariably emerge. With the way expectations are changing regarding corporate controls and disclosure, risk management professionals (whose lack of influence was seen as a substantial cause of our current state of affairs to begin with) will likely be among the first beneficiaries of our new outlook on business.
Forrester customer inquiries seem to have taken a step back when it comes to risk management. While there are still plenty of incoming technology and vendor selection questions, there has been a noticeable spike in calls about fundamental issues, such as how to build and organize risk management programs. Knowledge and experience in risk management basics is in high demand.
On a weekly basis, I get at least one inquiry request from either a vendor or an end-user company seeking industry averages for the cost of downtime. Vendors like to quote these statistics to grab your attention and to create a sense of urgency to buy their products or services. BC/DR planners and senior IT managers quote these statistics to create a sense of urgency with their own executives who are often loath to invest in BC/DR preparedness because they view it as a very expensive insurance policy.
BC/DR planners, senior IT managers and anyone else trying to build the business case for BC/DR should avoid the use of industry averages and other sensational statistics. While these statistics do grab attention, more often than not, they are misleading and inaccurate, and your executives will see through them. You'll hurt your business case in the end because you haven't done your homework and your execs will know it.
I saw a study recently that stated the cost of downtime for the insurance industry was $1,202,444 per hour. You might be tempted to grab this statistic and throw it into the next presentation to your C-level exec but what is this statistic really telling you? Do the demographics of the companies in the study match yours? Do you trust the accuracy of the data? Consider the following:
What is the definition of insurance industry in this case? Is it companies that focus solely on insurance or does it include companies that also provide financial advice and monetary instruments to their clients?
My BlackBerry battery died more quickly than usual yesterday as I received a wave of calls from reporterswondering about the denial of service (DoS) attacks against Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites. It seems many people are not aware of the long and storied history of denial of service attacks and this is their first personal experience with DoS. These types of DoS attacks have been around since the creation of the public Internet. A 15 year old named Mafiaboy famously brought down many of the top Websites of the day at the beginning of this millennium using similar techniques.
Is regulatory oversight more or less invasive than oral surgery? Sure, both are necessary sometimes. But however you feel about the current level of corporate scrutiny, it’s clearly increasing, and that means the jobs of corporate governance, risk management, and compliance professionals are going to get even tougher.
The last month has seen some dramatic news related to corporate disclosure, most notably a bill approved by the House Financial Services committee that would require public companies to explain executive and employee compensation packages, and to write rules that would prohibit any compensation that could have a substantial, negative effect on financial markets. Lawmakers expect that this bill, if approved, will be rolled up with other legislation.
Storage-as-a-Service is relatively new. Today the main value proposition is as a cloud target for on-premise deployments of backup and archiving software. If you have a need to retain data for extended periods of time (1 year plus in most cases) tape is still the more cost effective option given it's low capital acquisition cost and removability. If you have long term data retention needs and you want to eliminate tape, that's where a cloud storage target comes in. Electronically vault that data to a storage-as-service provider who can store that data at cents per GB. You just can't beat the economies of scale these providers are able to achieve.
If you're a small business and you don't have the staff to implement and manage a backup solution or if you're an enterprise and you're looking for a PC backup or a remote office backup solution, I think it's worthwhile to compare the three year total cost of ownership of an on-premise solution versus backup-as-a-service.
Every month or so, news events (attacks on government sites, massive privacy breaches, etc.) provide a ‘wake-up call’... a proof point used by vendors and practitioners alike that protecting our national and corporate information assets has never been more critical. On occasion we even see these incidents yield promises of action, for example the anticipated appointment of a US Cybersecurity Czar, which my colleague Khalid Kark discusses here.
But in spite of these warnings, my conversations with enterprise risk and IT risk professionals still reveal many disconnects, including that IT risks are not measured consistently with other enterprise risks. In addition, many IT risk professionals do not see their biggest risks showing up on the corporate risk register.