Big boys pressure suppliers to get house in order

Compliance pressures have forced large companies to put disaster recovery and business continuity plans in place, and now these companies are looking at their supply chains and have identified small and mid-sized suppliers as a source of risk, according to Simon Mingay, research vice president at analyst group Gartner.

Tighter integration of the supply chains means that companies have an increased dependency on the availability of their partners' IT systems, and so big companies are insisting that smaller suppliers get their houses in order if they want to do business.

"They [big companies] are going out to them and saying 'Show me your business continuity plan'," Mingay said.

"They are saying 'we expect you to be able to restore normal operations within a time period' which is often less than 24 hours," he told at Gartner's Midsize Enterprise Summit in Dublin.

And whereas previously small suppliers may have got away with simply having a plan, now big customers want to see it and see evidence that it is tested.

But only one in four or one in five mid-sized companies has anything close to a business continuity plan, he said. The good news is that remote replication is increasingly available to smaller companies as bandwidth and storage get cheaper.

Keeping the plan up-to-date once it has been formulated is key, Mingay said: "It has to be a well thought out, well tested plan. The easy part is creating the plan - the hard thing is maintaining it. That's an area that most organisations are trying to improve at the moment."