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dennis_wenk | 09 Jan 2013 | 0 comments

A real crisis is happening now and if we really want to reduce losses for our organization then we will need to adjust our focus.  We don’t have to wait for any pandemic or catastrophe to strike; organizations are experiencing losses that range between $35 billion and $500 billion per month.  If these losses are the result of best practices that are intended to protect our organizations from crisis, then some might even consider these regulations and best practices to be gravely dysfunctional.   

Compliance with federal, state, and international privacy and security laws and regulations often is more an interpretive art than an empirical science—and it is frequently a matter for negotiation.  When business metrics are applied to compliance, many companies decide to deploy as little technology or process as possible—or to ignore the governing laws and regulations completely. Every company weighs the cost of...

dennis_wenk | 08 Jan 2013 | 0 comments

Stakeholders are becoming increasingly concerned about accountability and management of operational risks.  Regulations like HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, and Basel II are placing requirements that are more stringent on corporate governance.  More and more high technology is embedded in the operating fabric of the organization and, in many respects, technology is the organization.  Amazon and eBay are outstanding examples of businesses created by and totally dependent on technology.  It is this reliance on technology and escalating dependency on interconnected infrastructures that has elevated the exposure to business interruptions.  These interdependencies ripple through an organization, as well as outside to major stakeholders:  customers, suppliers, lenders, and partners.

Simultaneously, non-conventional threats such as, denial of service, hacking, and September 11th 2001 changed the very nature of operational risk instantaneously and on a...

dennis_wenk | 07 Jan 2013 | 0 comments

There are many business benefits to the efficiencies that IT provides and the vast majority of functions have been automated.  Today, businesses do more transactions, of greater value, faster than ever before.  This intense dependence on technology has also introduced new risks and vulnerabilities that have large consequences.  One of the primary missions, therefore, for any modern organization is to manage the inherent risk within this complex infrastructure. The only rational reason for spending money to reduce operational risk is the expectation that the benefits outweigh the costs.  

Subjective measures such as risk-tolerance or risk appetite can lead to serious errors of fact, in the form of excessive fear of small risks and neglect of large ones.  The stakes are too great for organizations to rely on intuitive judgments that are error-prone.  Creating infrastructures that increase resiliency requires methods that provide better...

dennis_wenk | 10 Dec 2012 | 0 comments

The benefits of data center consolidation are apparent; they save millions of dollars and improve the overall quality of service.  It is easy to see that too many data centers adds unnecessary costs, it chips away at manageability, increases complexity and contributes to a number of operating inefficiencies.  Realizing the economic benefits of data center consolidation can be elusive, the challenge is to circumvent the potential pitfalls that complicated the transformation process.

Data center consolidations involve much more than just moving servers or data from one location into another.  Data centers have become a conglomeration of disparate technologies running on combination of virtual platforms, physical platforms, and clustered platforms that operate an assortment of systems and access a range of data-tiers that are stored on multiple arrays from a whole host of hardware vendors.  

In addition to the...

dennis_wenk | 05 Oct 2012 | 0 comments

Basel II Accord for International Banking Operational Risk is defined as, “Risk of loss from inadequate or failed internal; processes, people, and systems or external events “.   When Processes, People or Systems fail, whether it be from internal or external events, the losses can be substantial.  As an example, the Ponemon Institute estimates that worldwide organizational are losing over $35 Billion monthly from data center downtime.  Nicholas G. Carr point out in his seminal Harvard Business Review article IT Doesn’t Matter, “today, an IT disruption can paralyze a company’s ability to make products, deliver its services, and connect with its customers, not to mention foul its reputation … even a brief disruption in availability of technology can be devastating.”

There are two primary ways for an organization to increase value.  The first way is to...

dennis_wenk | 05 Oct 2012 | 0 comments

The Effectiveness of internal control systems is now an issue for public policy and formal law. Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley law is aimed at helping companies prevent financial reporting mistakes and fraud. The rule requires companies to include in their annual reports:

  • A statement of management's responsibility for establishing and maintaining "adequate" controls over financial reporting
  • Management's assessment of the effectiveness of the company's internal controls
  • A statement identifying the framework used by management to evaluate the effectiveness
  • An auditor's report on management's evaluation of internal controls
  • Any material weaknesses identified in the internal controls review

While the rule only requires companies to disclose material weaknesses in their annual reports, many companies have begun alerting investors about deficiencies and potential problems. The rule is intended...

dennis_wenk | 04 Oct 2012 | 1 comment

“Best Practices” is a popular expression of the intent to manage business continuity prudently.  Best Practices are seen as a way to sidestep both the quantification of operational-risks, as well as, the objective evaluation of the cost-benefit for any proposed mitigation actions.  There are several reasons why Best Practices “Are not.” best for Business Continuity purposes.

  • It is unreasonable to assume that a best practice could optimally answer the business continuity questions for multiple organizations.  Organizations differ widely in terms of their maturity level, their technologies deployed, and their vulnerabilities. 
  • Given the wide assortment of published ‘best practices’, which of the best practices really are the ‘best’ for any particular circumstance? 
  • No organization could hope to implement all of the thousands of best practices to get it perfectly-right, and there is...
dennis_wenk | 04 Oct 2012 | 0 comments

Virtualization is the creation of a virtual (rather than actual) version of something, such as an operating system, a server, a storage device or network resources. Virtualization is a computing technology that enables a single user to access multiple physical devices. This paradigm manifests itself as a single computer controlling multiple machines, or one operating system utilizing multiple computers to analyze a database. Virtualization is about creating an information technology infrastructure that leverages networking and shared physical IT assets to reduce or eliminate the need for physical computing devices dedicated to specialized tasks or systems.

Cloud computing is a style of computing in which dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources are provided as a service over the Internet. Through cloud computing, a world-class data center service and collocation provider offers managed IT services through a hosted or "Software...

dennis_wenk | 04 Oct 2012 | 1 comment

Professor John Graham of Indiana University points out that “large amounts of resources are devoted to slight or speculative dangers while substantial and well-documented dangers remain unaddressed”.  It has been well established that people often too much weight is placed on risks of low probability.  Such is the dilemma of complexity within IT infrastructure.  We often talk about hackers, malware, floods, fires, earthquakes, and tornados; while the real crisis is happening right under our nose and it has well over 5,000 risk signatures.  This crisis is the complexity in the IT infrastructure and it is causing considerable losses for companies.

The likelihood that an organization will experience a catastrophic loss from an IT failure is far greater than any catastrophic disaster or "black swan" event.   IT failures are costing companies trillions of dollars every year; worldwide downtime is estimated at over $35 Billion...

dennis_wenk | 24 Sep 2012 | 0 comments

Operational resilience is the economical balance between an organization’s requirements for service availability and the consequence of an interruption to that service.  The likelihood that your organization will experience a catastrophic loss from a material service interruption caused by an IT operational-problem is far greater than any service interruption being caused by some disaster or ‘black swan’ event.  So if the overarching objective is to protect our organizations from bad events that generate losses then it is time to focus our attention to creating resilient IT operations.   

We live in a technology driven world.  Every possible business processes has been automated; automated to the point where Information Technology is deeply embedded in the operating fabric of our business and the organization is now highly dependent on information technology.  IT has become a microcosm of the organization and it is used to...