Business continuity planning emerged from disaster recovery planning in the early s.
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning for IT Professionals [Book]
Financial organizations, such as banks and insurance companies, invested in alternative sites. Backup tapes were stored at protected sites away from computers. Recovery efforts were almost always triggered by a fire, flood, storm or other physical devastation. The s saw the growth of commercial recovery sites offering computer services on a shared basis, but the emphasis was still only on IT recovery. The s brought a sharp increase in corporate globalization and the pervasiveness of data access.
Businesses thought beyond disaster recovery and more holistically about the entire business continuity process. Companies realized that without a thorough business continuity plan they might lose customers and their competitive advantage. At the same time, business continuity planning was becoming more complex because it had to consider application architectures such as distributed applications, distributed processing, distributed data and hybrid computing environments.
Organizations today are increasingly aware of their vulnerability to cyber attacks that can cripple a business or permanently destroy its IT systems. Also, digital transformation and hyper-convergence creates unintended gateways to risks, vulnerabilities, attacks and failures. Business continuity plans are having to include a cyber resilience strategy that can help a business withstand disruptive cyber incidents.
The plans typically include ways to defend against those risks, protect critical applications and data and recover from breach or failure in a controlled, measurable way. Applications such as decision support, data warehousing, data mining and customer resource management can require petabyte-size investments in online storage. More data to manage means more data to recover. Data recovery no longer lends itself to a one-dimensional approach. The complex IT infrastructure of most installations has exceeded the ability of most shops to respond in the way they did just a few years ago.
To withstand and thrive during these many threats, businesses have realized that they need to do more than create a reliable infrastructure that supports growth and protects data.
Companies are now developing holistic business continuity plans that can keep your business up and running, protect data, safeguard the brand, retain customers — and ultimately help reduce total operating costs over the long term. Having a business continuity plan in place can minimize downtime and achieve sustainable improvements in business continuity, IT disaster recovery, corporate crisis management capabilities and regulatory compliance. Yet developing a comprehensive business continuity plan has become more difficult because systems are increasingly integrated and distributed across hybrid IT environments — creating potential vulnerabilities.
Linking more critical systems together to manage higher expectations complicates business continuity planning — along with disaster recovery, resiliency, regulatory compliance and security.
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When one link in the chain breaks or comes under attack, the impact can ripple throughout the business. An organization can face revenue loss and eroded customer trust if it fails to maintain business resiliency while rapidly adapting and responding to risks and opportunities. Your organization should know the difference between the two and create a detailed plan for each.
This plan must include many scenarios since the causes of disasters vary greatly. This includes deliberate criminal activity, natural disasters, a stolen laptop, power outages, a terrorist attack, etc.
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There are hundreds of possible disaster scenarios that vary based on culture, geography, and industry. When a real disaster occurs, things can get hazy, so everyone must know their own roles within the disaster recovery process, and also know how to take over the roles of teammates who are unable to perform their duties. The business continuity plan is a fairly new methodology that lays out what steps an organization must take to minimize the effects of service interruptions.
When organizations were primarily paper driven, with information processing done through batch processing, they could tolerate a few days of downtime. As technology improved, organizations started computerizing business activities. Organizations required systems that would minimize the impact of unplanned downtime. One of the first events that proved the importance of business continuity planning was the Y2K crisis.
Since then, business continuity has been a standard practice of corporate IT planning. A typical example of business continuity would be the electric generators used by hospitals to ensure patients can still be cared for during a power outage.
Although the ideal continuity solution would be to have all company servers replicated to a off-site location, this is often unnecessary and prohibitively expensive. Another alternative would be to triage different business processes and assign resources only to the most critical IT systems. This requires insight to business priorities of other departments. For example, many companies argue that email servers are business critical.
But what is the scope in case of an emergency? Do employees only need to send and receive emails? Do employees only need access to email archives? Will employees need access to shared schedules and contact lists during downtime? Will employees be sending and receiving attachments during downtime?
How many locations within the organization will require email access?
Will email access be provided to employees across the enterprise or only to key individuals? As scope grows, so does the complexity and cost of maintaining high availability for these systems. If the credit card system at a supermarket goes offline, they can lose a lot of money. But the cost of such an incident rarely justifies the cost of purchasing of a second credit card processing system. A more cost effective solution would be to process credit cards manually with a roller imprinter until the main systems come back online. Disaster recovery describes the steps involved in planning and adapting to potential disasters with a roadmap that restores operations while minimizing the long-term negative impact.
Business continuity planning ensures all of the most essential business functions remain available after a disaster until the disaster recovery process can be completed. This will minimize the short-term negative impact of the event on the company, its employees, and its customers. If your company would like help with its disaster recovery or business continuity planning, contact RackWare.
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