Making Business Resiliency Part of Business As Usual
Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) have become non-negotiable requirements for virtually every IT department. Business resiliency is an umbrella concept that must address everything from basic business continuity to high-level risk management, security, crisis management, and more. With today’s IT architectures supporting servers, networks, and applications, BCDR has evolved from simple backups and restores to a broad range of business resiliency services. This shift demands a strategic, proactive and multidisciplinary approach to sustaining critical IT services in the face of a range of disruptions. Increasing business complexity – more markets, more products, more services – all translate into a significantly greater reliance on IT to keep the organization running at peak efficiency. IT is increasingly becoming a differentiating factor for businesses, enabling entirely new classes of virtual products and services. IT is the foundation for business intelligence and analytics that make an organization smarter and more agile.
Developing a business resiliency plan is not simply about inventorying servers or calculating bandwidth requirements. Instead, it’s about delving into business requirements and understanding what the priorities are for protecting or restoring services. For an organization to transition from mere business continuity to true business resiliency, its leaders must focus on four critical actions to lay a strong foundation on which to build a robust business resiliency plan.
Audit all business applications. It is essential to examine applications thoroughly to ensure they will be able to take full advantage of business resiliency requirements. If they aren’t written in a way that will enable the business to capitalize on resiliency, then it is necessary to examine the scope of work needed to re-architect them to do so. Because restoring access to virtual applications is an essential component of business resiliency, the IT team needs to ensure that in the case of a disaster not only can it restore the datacenter, but also keep applications up and running to give remote users the ability to continually access that data and resume normal operations as soon as possible.
Benchmark infrastructure technology. It is prudent to undertake a complete testing of technology infrastructure and processes. By benchmarking current technology, IT teams get a clear understanding of how long it takes to recover from a disaster, what hurdles are encountered, and the steps needed to eliminate them. For example, if company data is backed up on disk-based recovery architecture versus a lower-cost solution such as tape, the company can restore data and services faster and greatly reduce the risk of data loss. Knowing the capabilities and limitations of the infrastructure and building a resiliency plan to support and optimize functionality can be the difference between minutes of down time versus hours of lost business.
Document IT processes. When disasters strike, there is no guarantee that the IT team will be able to travel to the company’s facilities and perform their regular tasks. In building a solid business resiliency plan, it is essential to document IT processes thoroughly to enable novices to take over crucial tasks until the business regains its footing. Cross-training across geographies is essential to ensuring business resiliency.
Monitor operational bandwidth. As the portal is the focal point for conducting day-to-day business, monitoring how it is performing and being used can help prevent the most damaging aspects of any form of business interruption. Having a finger on the pulse of activity within the portal enables the IT team to build in the necessary business resiliency components, allowing the infrastructure to withstand impacts on business operations.
These four steps are the key to laying the foundation for a strong BCDR plan. An additional factor businesses can leverage to build a comprehensive business resiliency plan is to partner with a provider to harness expanded service offerings needed to sustain business resiliency. Once disaster strikes and the network is down, all of that careful planning and work is for naught. Taking the time to ensure a business has a strong plan to manage service interruptions can dramatically improve uptime performance, even in the face of wide-scale disruptions – helping the business deliver value to its customers.
By Chris Patterson, VP Product Marketing, NaviSite