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Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

Thursday, July 25, 2013

How long would your business survive without access to your network, phones, email, or internet? You may think it will never happen to you, and many businesses play the odds. However, we get calls from customers whose facilities have been struck by lightning more often than you may think. Things happen. Lightning strikes, flooding or a fire takes out your server room, and of course we can't forget human error.

The focus of business continuity is making sure all your critical applications stay up and running in the event of a disaster. The first thing to understand is that business continuity is not disaster recovery, and it is not something that should be implemented at the time of the disaster. Business continuity is the planning and implementation of a system that ensures all critical business functions will be available to customers, suppliers, and of course, employees, whenever the need arises. The proper system can include a number of essential activities such as project management, system backups, communication systems, and your help desk. Business continuity includes activities performed daily to maintain service, consistency, and recoverability.

In order to determine the appropriate protocol for your business, you first have to determine how long your business can function without your critical applications, then we will work to determine a solution. If you are a medical facility, such as a hospital, you wouldn't be able to last long at all. However, if you don't rely as heavily on critical business applications, you may be able to last a day or longer.

Common Barriers to Business Continuity Solutions
When we work with customers to develop their business continuity plan, we often discuss various hurdles with them, as this often helps us determine what level to approach their plan. Some common issues we see in businesses include:

  1. Business owners and management may not realize their systems are at risk, or if they do, to what extent
  2. Technical staff may not have the knowledge to implement and maintain true disaster recovery and business continuity solutions
  3. The cost to implement disaster recovery and business continuity solutions in-house may be very high
  4. There are often misperceptions of what disaster recovery and business continuity really are

What are the Ultimate Goals for Business Continuity?
The obvious goal is to continue with a seamless work flow, despite the disaster. However, going beyond that we want to ensure that: 

  1. There is no single point of failure that causes a major system or technology outage
  2. There is an assurance of system uptimes
  3. There is secure protection of information and data even in the event of loss of systems or entire buildings
  4. The system is predictable and testable
  5. There is little to no loss of business revenue due to system outage

Achieving Business Continuity In The Cloud
Cloud based solutions are quickly becoming the standard for business continuity systems. You'll want to consider moving essential services to the cloud, including email, voice, data backup and off-site replication, web, and critical applications.

The steps to a successful solution include:
  1. Identifying your critical business systems and rank them by importance
  2. Assessing your current backdrop and disaster recovery solutions for each critical system
  3. Implementing virtualization solutions
  4. Investing in high-quality, high-speed and redundant internet connections
  5. Migrating critical business services to cloud-based providers
  6. Scheduling and testing failover and failback procedures

You don't want to wait for a disaster to happen before you begin thinking about a business continuity plan. We've seen unfortunate circumstances where businesses were hit with a disaster and were not able to recover in a timely manner because proper plans were not in place. By engaging an IT partner you can ensure that your systems will be taken care of in the event of a disaster, and that minimal downtime will occur. If this is something you would like to take a closer look at, our staff would be happy to discuss your business continuity plans with you. Don't wait until it's too late.

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