Leaders in IT are constantly evaluating and implementing new technologies to propel their organizations forward while simultaneously being tasked with keeping their networks online and securing critical business data.
Because resources are burdened with the day-to-day management of IT, some more strategic initiatives, such as business continuity planning, do not get the attention they deserve. However, failure to adequately prepare for disasters could have a detrimental impact and lead to technical downtime, data loss, and major financial hardships.
There are a lot of things to consider when making decisions about business continuity. But, before you dive into planning, testing, and implementing a business continuity solution, you must first identify what type of solution best fits your organizational needs.
This can essentially be broken down into two approaches: on-premises and cloud-based. While there is still a place for more conventional business continuity solutions, cloud-based solutions are dominating the marketplace, and for good reason when you consider the importance of cloud computing in today’s IT landscape.
Let’s take a closer look at the major benefits of cloud business continuity.
Seamless Backup and Disaster Recovery
Backing up data is the first step to any successful business continuity plan, and this process is certainly made easier — and more dependable — with the cloud. Cloud-based data backup features 99% reliability. This means the chance of backup failure and data loss is minimal to none. The process of data backups can also be automated and performed in real time or scheduled intervals, leaving very little margin for manual error.
Some questions you will want to ask yourself when assessing your cloud backup and recovery solution include the following.
- What data and systems require backup?
- How often should complete backups be completed?
- How long should backups be kept based on regulatory or compliance requirements?
Since the cloud can conveniently replicate data across multiple locations, it should be a simple task to retrieve that data and restore business in the event of a natural or manmade disaster.
Flexibility and Scalability
One of the biggest advantages of using the cloud for business continuity is that data can be accessed remotely. This helps to normalize business functions in the event of an outage, as staff can access the data from virtually anywhere.
Cloud business continuity also gives businesses the power to choose which data and applications to move to the cloud. Some businesses may opt to only store their most critical assets in the cloud, while less critical assets can be stored on in-house servers.
Cloud services are usually offered via a “pay as you go” model, so you are only paying for what you use. Because this is a more affordable option for many organizations, it is easier to scale up and down as business needs change.
Cloud-based business continuity solutions are much more cost-effective than more traditional methods. In addition to the pay-as-you-go consumption model mentioned above, businesses can subscribe only to the services they need. As operations expand, the subscription plan can be modified to include additional services.
Leveraging a cloud solution can also reduce costs that are typical with on-premises solutions, such as on-site hardware, building maintenance, server support, and even physical security. This not only eliminates large initial investments but lowers monthly bills, too.
Technical downtime due to business interruptions and data loss can be detrimental. According to Datto, an hour of downtime costs $8,000 for a small company, $74,000 for a medium-sized company, and $700,000 for a large enterprise.
With cloud business continuity, you can continuously — and automatically — replicate data and recovery efforts, minimizing downtime should a disaster occur.
Of course, you will want to ensure that recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) values have been outlined, as these values play a large role in ensuring uptime.
RTO refers to which servers, infrastructure, or applications can be down without causing significant damage to the business, while RPO refers to the amount of data that can be lost. At a high level, these objectives differ according to application and data priorities.
Implementing Cloud Business Continuity Plans
There are some key factors to consider when implementing a cloud-based business continuity plan for your business.
First, you will want to use your RTO and RPO values to categorize and prioritize all data, systems, and applications. This way, in the event of a disaster, your team will know where to begin in your recovery efforts.
Next, you should document all of the processes, activities, and tasks pertaining to your business continuity plan and conduct regular training. Each stakeholder involved must be aware of their responsibilities to execute the plan successfully.
Finally, it is imperative to test your cloud business continuity plan. All of the work you’ve done setting up your plan means nothing if it doesn’t perform as intended when it matters most.
If you do not currently have a cloud business continuity plan in place for your business, a managed cloud service provider can help. A reputable service provider will conduct a thorough assessment of your infrastructure to help you determine your RTO and RPO values, help you categorize mission critical data and applications, and perform testing to ensure your business continuity plan is effective.