What happens if a natural disaster keeps all of our employees at home for days — or weeks. Meanwhile, your key services are hampered due to damage sustained at your office. How are you going to contact all of your employees — not to mention customers? What will be the most efficient ways to put the pieces of your business back together, following an emergency?
This is business continuity planning. Good business continuity planning should look at the business as a whole — with a goal to support business resilience. Business continuity describes a complete solution for backup and disaster recovery. A business continuity strategy will protect data on-premises in physical and virtual servers and in the cloud. Whether data is on servers or in SaaS applications, it needs to be backed up. Business continuity goes a step further and offers you the ability to restore your data, which is termed disaster recovery.
Whether a business is faced with a natural disaster, or a cyber-attack, strong business continuity practices will have you up and running in minutes, particularly business continuity solutions that leverage the hybrid cloud – guaranteeing a quicker restore time. The severity and length of business disruptions caused by any disaster can vary considerably. To be prepared for extended or permanent facility damage, businesses should maintain continuous off-site backup of data, applications, and server images, as well as have arrangements in place for re-routing incoming calls to an alternative site and/or to employees’ mobile phones. Data is essential for all types of organizations today, so ensuring access to applications and data following a disaster is critical.
Still, it’s just one piece of the business continuity puzzle. Evaluating your company’s ability to restore IT operations can be a good starting point for company-wide business continuity efforts. In fact, many business continuity planning efforts start by conducting a business impact analysis or risk assessment — these studies can reveal weaknesses in your organization’s ability to continue operations that go far beyond IT.
What are 4 reasons you need business continuity planning?
1. Downtime is really, really, expensive: If your employees or customers lose access to business-critical applications and data, there will be a direct impact on productivity and revenue. While this sounds obvious, many organizations do not consider the actual costs of downtime. Some modern business continuity products offer the ability to run applications from backup instances of virtual servers. This allows users to continue operations while primary application servers are restored. Choosing a business continuity solution aimed at reducing downtime makes good business sense.
2. Data backup alone is not enough — not nearly enough! You’d be hard pressed to find a business today that doesn’t conduct some form of data backup. But, what happens if a flood wipes out your primary and backup servers? Sending a copy of data offsite for disaster recovery should also be considered essential. Historically, this meant sending tapes to a secondary location or tape vault. As previously mentioned, modern business continuity products can run applications from backup instances of virtual servers, and some can extend this capability to the cloud. The ability to run applications in the cloud while onsite infrastructure is restored is widely considered to be a game changer for disaster recovery. As CEO, you don’t want yesterday’s backup technology. Backup and business continuity are not one in the same. Your business needs both — all the time.
3. Disasters actually do happen — and they most times are not natural! Not every disaster is broadcasted on news and weather channels. Most IT downtime is a result of common, every day actions like accidental (or even intentional) data deletion, damage to computer hardware and poor security habits. For example, a CompTIA study found that 94% of respondents routinely log into public wifi, in spite of security risks. And, 69% of this group accesses work-related data over public wifi. A ransomware attack or virus can halt operations just as easily as a tornado or a power surge. These disasters are typically a result of human error, which in unpreventable.
4. Business continuity impacts everybody — especially your customers! Data is essential for all types of organizations today, so ensuring access to applications and data following a disaster is critical. But it’s just one piece of the business continuity puzzle. Evaluating your business’ ability to restore IT operations can be a good starting point for company-wide business continuity efforts. Good business continuity and disaster recovery planning should look at the business as a whole – with a goal to develop business resilience. In fact, many business continuity planning efforts start by conducting a business impact analysis or risk assessment—these studies can reveal weaknesses in your organization’s ability to continue operations that go far beyond IT.
Keep in mind, failure to protect your business from human error, hardware failure and/or natural disasters can be detrimental and impact every single stakeholder. Implementing a business continuity and disaster recovery plan will help you sleep a little better at night.
Photo via Shutterstock