There are numerous best practices that organizations can employ in order to allow for continuous operation in the event of a disaster, but sometimes the processes can get lost in the shuffle. True continuity planning is about far more than just IT infrastructure, it’s about keeping the company as a whole on the same page with the establishment of appropriate tactics that can be used should they be necessary. When disaster strikes, no amount of technology can bring your data back or keep your operations afloat, but by making continuity a priority amongst stakeholders, organizations give themselves a fighting chance.
A recent post in The Data Center Journal outlines this very topic, and defines 4 ways to guarantee success with Business Continuity. I’m not sure there’s ever going to be a way to completely guarantee data protection should there be a catastrophe, but these best practices will, again, certainly give organizations a shot at living another day. Here’s a summary of that article with some of my own commentary added:
Business Continuity planning should stretch company-wide
Every department plays a key role in Business Continuity planning, even if the actual management of the planning falls at the feet of IT. It’s important that every stakeholder participate in creating best practices to cover potential disaster scenarios. Planning needs to include the actions that will be taken by each department, and more precisely, each individual, to ensure that the proper actions are being taken. Thus, having everyone involved in the planning stages is paramount in importance.
Employee inclusion also helps to educate everyone, especially those without the technical background of those in IT. Educating employees on which systems are most important will in turn allow them to establish recovery point objectives.
Continuity plans should evolve with the company
A company’s continuity and recovery plans should evolve with the company; no exceptions. The definition of continuity, while broad, is to ensure that vital systems remain intact during and after a disaster so that semi-normal to normal business function may ensue. A continuity plan should change based on the addition or subtraction of employees. It’s also important to take any and all changes within a company since the last time the plan was revised into account, as an outdated plan can have negative consequences.
As the author notes, one of the best times to adjust a continuity plan is upon the addition of new technology, whether it be the introduction of new smartphones, software, or a new server. Even if there are no notable changes, it’s important to continually revisit the established plan, which brings about the next best practice.
Test early, test often
Business Continuity plans are not for the complacent, so continually reviewing a plan is important to ensure that it works as expected – it would be far less than ideal to find out that the plan was lacking in an area after a catastrophic event. Frequent testing amongst all of the stakeholders will play a large role in adherence to existing policies and operations while also reminding each individual what they are responsible for should continuity or recovery kick in. After a plan is updated it should be tested on a regular basis until the next time it’s updated, and so on.
Try the cloud
Moving Backup, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity to the cloud simply gives enterprise organizations another option. What’s best for your specific use case will ultimately be up to you, but the benefits of the cloud are certainly of interest to a lot of companies. More often than not, a hybrid approach will make the most sense, but the growing Disaster Recovery as a Service market tells us that many are indeed abandoning traditional continuity solutions altogether. Growing in popularity, cloud backup has even forced some to ask whether or not it is an on-premise killer. If you are planning on taking flight into the cloud, you may want to consider these five facts.
If this all sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is! The alternative is well, you know. However, recent advancements in enterprise-class tools have lessened the load on IT, making it easier to continually update and monitor continuity planning. The right plan will always have a great deal to do with what technology is in place, but people and processes are also vital, so factoring all of these things together is the only way to put together a comprehensive framework.
Does your company have a Business Continuity plan in place?
This article was inspired by a recent post in The Data Center Journal.
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