Business Continuity must make business sense

By : |January 13, 2006 0



BC
Investment must be commiserate to impact on business

“Not in business” due to outages hurts. More so when
IT systems vital to the running of the business are not available. Depending on
the size of the company, the market it is in, the impact of an outage will be
quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative impacts can be measured. As examples,
loss of revenue and loss in production can be measured per time unit or customer
transaction. Qualitative impacts are in the form of reputation, trustworthiness
and employee morale. A business must weigh both these factors when considering
the impact of an downtime.

Outages are a fact of life; they can be caused by acts of
god, hardware/software failures, security breaches and/or human errors. It is
instructive to note that 93% of the outage a business suffers are caused by
events that we can met without causing outage by prudent planning and the right
IT technology solution in place.

By understanding the critical business process and their
impact on your business, you can identify and make the optimal investment in
business continuity. 
As an example, if the impact to business due to primary data center not
being available for 24 hours is Rs 1 Cr, it does not make sense to invest more
then Rs 1 Cr for IT disaster recovery. Investment in continuity is not an all or
nothing proposition, instead a though out risk mitigation plan, will go a long
way in preparedness. 
As certain business functions assume more importance the company can
invest in keeping them continuous.

 

Leverage
your alternate site investment

At the time of an outage, the IT DR plan calls for
applications to failover to an alternate site. The alternate site comes alive
when services from the primary site are unavailable. This operating model
expects capital investment in servers, networks, storage and operations to be
made upfront, only to be utilized during unforeseen circumstances.

A different approach would be to distribute certain
operational tasks between the primary and alternate data center. Based on
business impact analysis, every corporation’s IT applications/services can be
divided as critical, essential and support. Examples of support applications are
data warehousing and record archival. An operating plan that runs support
applications from its alternate data center will leverage the investment in the
alternate data center. There are several benefits of doing this. Improved
performance and server head room at the primary application server and faster
turn around times for support activities. This also keeps the operations at the
alternate data center “warm” such that people and process are in place when
required.

 

Cost
of Operations

Having made capital investments in an alternate DR center,
it is important to keep it operationally active and ready for a failover
scenario. The cost of operations & investment in people for the alternate
data center is an easy target for debate. Further, if business critical
applications are varied, then the expertise required for recovery at the
alternate data center goes up. The cost of operations and recovery can be
contained by focusing on the following factors:

Ö       
Centralized monitoring for all sub-systems of the solution

Ö       
Pre-determined responses to outage events

Ö       
Automate steps required for failover of application & network

Ö       
Automate step required for data recovery and bringing it to an
application consistent state.

Ö       
Regular DR drills and audits

By putting the right technology solution in place, IT
operations can minimize people dependency and ensure the solution delivers when
required.

Business Continuity and IT disaster recovery are business
imperatives today. 
The risk of not investing in continuity far out weights the investments
required. Business Continuity is a culmination of people, process and technology
for the plan to deliver. By adopting the right strategy to continuity, business
can ensure their investment delivers the promised returns.

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