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COMMENT: Business continuity and disaster-recovery-as-a-service

COMMENT: Business continuity and disaster-recovery-as-a-service

Kevin Krige, Head of Datacentre and Cloud Service, BT in Africa, says the list of potential threats to businesses continues to grow.

Today’s integrated digital networked economy – and as business operations increasingly depend heavily on IT and digital infrastructure – even a few hours of service disruption can have a devastating impact for most businesses.

Business continuity planning and disaster recovery (BCP/DR) capabilities are therefore more relevant now than ever before, as businesses contend to become more resilient and agile in an increasingly uncertain world. In fact, governance and regulatory requirements, compliance against global best practice standards, supply chain concerns and the potential impact on revenue, brand and reputation, have all helped move business continuity higher on the boardroom agenda. However, businesses are also beginning to realise that their existing plans and procedures may no longer be adequate in light of these new threats.

Revamping business continuity

Spurred by business needs – to protect, prevent, be resilient, agile and survive – business continuity capabilities allow the mission critical functions of the business to continue operating during and after a disruptive event.

However, having the right capabilities in place before a disruptive event does require some predictive planning – and developing or revamping a business continuity strategy can therefore be a complex undertaking.

At the very least, this process must involve assessing the business’ current resilience and recovery capabilities against recognised industry best practice and relevant standards. It cannot be overstated that being under prepared can quickly result in an unacceptable impact on an organisation. As such, it is advisable to undertake a Business Impact Analysis (BIA) to better understand the business demands in relation to Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) and Recovery Point Objectives (RPO). This process will also provide keen insights into the Business Continuity Risk Assessment.

Effective business continuity management requires a careful understanding of the appropriate people, process, technology, information and supplies in delivering mission critical activities. As often it is the inability to thoroughly assess these factors and identify weaknesses that leads to poor management of disruption – something that can escalate to threaten the operations of the business.

By analysing every facet and identifying areas for improvement, a business will be better placed to implement strategic changes – where necessary – that will ultimately improve the resilience of the business’ infrastructure and its processes, and at the same time help maximise on investment in business continuity related products and services.

Don’t skimp on disaster-recovery-as-a-service

As cloud computing and cloud-based services become more pervasive, businesses are increasingly turning to cloud-based disaster recovery solutions. Part of the rational for this move is due to the scalability and cost benefits of moving to cloud-based services, where more traditional models of disaster recovery are becoming increasingly unsustainable – from both a cost and people operational overhead perspective.

When moving to cloud-based services, businesses must take a considered approach and ensure they do not compromise on their disaster recovery solutions. For instance, businesses should avoid applying one model across all applications, wherever possible.

While standardised capabilities are generally implemented to reduce or save on costs, it must be noted that business processes do not all act the same or serve the same functions – and therefore do not have the same requirements. Especially during or immediately after a disruptive event, where having standardised capabilities could pose limitations on – or event risks to – the effectiveness of the business’ business continuity.

Rather, businesses should look for a disaster recovery model that is flexible and fit-for-purpose in terms of cost versus process requirements (RPO and RTO) – and therefore provides the business with the ability to respond on-demand to all workload protection and recovery needs with a single, easy-to-manage technology.

Business continuity management, service availability and the ongoing assessment of business risk remain essential activities for any business across any industry. Partnering with a full-service provider uniquely places a business to take advantage of a mix of business continuity products, solution and services capabilities that are carefully designed – and that can be deployed to support a holistic business continuity strategy to underpin the business’ long-term objectives.