Business continuity is a simple concept best understood as “a formal discipline of planning and preparation designed to ensure that an organization remains able to conduct business in the event of a serious outage, incident, or disaster.” The goals of business continuity planning is to ensure that your organization returns to an operational state within an acceptable period of time following the event.
While the definition and goal are straightforward enough, there’s still a lot of work involved in the planning and preparation of business continuity. Getting it right will involve executives, managers, and other key stakeholders throughout the organization. Business continuity also requires testing to ensure that what is supposed to work in theory actually does work in practice.
Planning, Prep, and Execution in the Cloud
A typical business continuity plan requires the efforts of a two- or three-person team consisting of individuals with working knowledge of the business, its management, and its IT infrastructure. It will take several months to prepare the necessary documents, and to secure buy-in and funding from executives and stakeholders.
While today’s cloud-based technologies cannot help with the planning and preparation part of business continuity, the “return to operation” (RTO) aspect is where cloud-based technology greatly enhances its implementation and execution. Before the cloud made it possible to mirror production servers and databases and, then, to restore operations at the click of a mouse, organizations had no choice but to engage in expensive and time-consuming DIY implementation efforts.
This not only involved considerable capital expenditures to acquire the networking infrastructure and data center space necessary to restore the organization to operational status – it also came with huge costs for real estate and facilities to house that equipment, including cooling and power to make it run. A typical backup facility can easily cost over $100 million.
If that’s not enough to give you pause, all this effort also requires highly skilled, hard to find, and expense staff to execute all these functions successfully and consistently. In short, DIY business continuity is expensive, time-consuming, resource-hungry, and taxing to both the top and bottom lines of any organization attempting to implement a business continuity plan without the cloud.
How a Base in the Cloud Reinvents Business Continuity
A cloud-based solution alleviates most of these issues. It becomes the cloud service provider’s job to manage and maintain the infrastructure, provide the required skill sets, keep the lights on, pay for fiber backbone, security, etc. The capital expenditures shift to operating expenditures, allowing the organization to manage and budget for the costs for keeping business continuity available, paying more only when an incident or disaster occurs. This frees up cash flow and working capital for more business-facing projects instead of tying up dollars in a facility that is really just an insurance policy, offering no business advantage or ROI until and unless disaster strikes.
Finding a great business continuity provider also means the solution will be more robust, offer high-availability, and be better engineered than almost any but the most expensive DIY implementations. Cloud-based business continuity providers achieve these results by exploiting economies of scale.
Providers can also offer more locations, better wide-area and local connections, and support a wide range of recovery point objectives (RPOs). Some providers own their own fiber backbones so they can guarantee service levels without blinking.
The Cloud Changes Everything
When it comes to business continuity, very few circumstances should compel an organization to go it alone. When they do, it often comes down to contractual obligations and/or extreme security requirements.
Because most organizations are subject to neither of these barriers, cloud-based business continuity is too good a deal to pass up. It supports the buyer’s needs for operational uptime following switch-over, offers excellent value for the predictable costs involved, and can draw on a better physical infrastructure and security than an organization could build for itself.
For a conversation on the specific cloud solutions your organization needs, get in touch.