Variety of natural disasters, large scale malware attacks, or terror strikes can expose an organization’s ability to deal with power outages and downtime events. It has been proven on number of occasions that relying on power backup systems and human resources is not enough to combat such catastrophes. Even a downtime that lasts for a single day can result in loss of millions of dollars.

               

This necessitates a robust and foolproof business continuity plan that conforms to the best practices of industry. In the ensuing paragraphs, we have tried to briefly explore best practices in order to ensure business continuity.

Vital Aspects of a Business Plan

Data Center- Importance of data center’s abilities to provide redundancies that can mitigate all outage related risks has been highlighted number of times. For most of the organizations, their data center has potential to impact the online existence of the office or branch. It is for this reason companies need to select data center facilities on the basis of Uptime ranking.

Data Backups- Large scale data loss can be effectively prevented by choosing to keep it backed up at safe and remote data center location. According to majority of IT expert, for every organization the data loss can only be compared to a death like scenario. These data backups can be put in cloud servers to help reduce downtime to a considerable extent.

Remote Accessibility- One of the most vital requirement for dealing with challenges of disaster is the ability to execute workloads with help of remote access to server infrastructure, applications, and documents. This will empower workforce to perform their activities from remote locations to minimize the effect of disaster.

                 

Business Continuity Plan - Best Practices

Full-Fledged Automation- In spite of remarkable advances in automation technologies, a good number of enterprises are found to rely on recovery systems that are manual or are handled by using human power. The important feature of such practice is over reliance on entrepreneurs and their employees in terms of their ability to access organization’s remote facilities. Remote accessibility can be severely compromised in the event of a natural disaster or terror attack. Hence remote accessibility cannot be relied upon in these situations. By adopting full-scale automation, business can minimize their dependence on remote accessibility and involvement of human intervention to maintain business continuity.

Understand Limitations of Virtual Systems- Adoption of virtual server, desktops, and storage can considerably improve ability of the organization to deal with outages and downtime. These virtualized systems have an intrinsic ability that reduces risk of downtime by offering greater protection from outages. In spite of this, you need to understand that such virtualized systems cannot offer hundred percent safety against failure. This calls for need to be prepared for the unexpected by employing a robust backup strategy.

Testing of Every Plan- Although, employing business continuity plan immunizes business against natural disasters and guarantees business availability, it cannot be considered to be a fool proof plan until you have checked and tested every single step. You need to make sure that the business continuity plan is able to sustain the most challenging conditions. More than twenty percent of businesses surveyed were found to have never undertaken testing of their business continuity plans. Equal number of companies admitted infrequent testing of the business continuity plan. Testing establishes the credibility of business continuity plan and must be undertaken on a quarterly basis. This must involve running of critical applications and testing every single system.

Relevance of Location- With reference to a recent Consumer Economics report, as high as forty percent organizations in the midsized category rely on a single data center for their business operations. In view of growing threats of terror attacks due to current situation and greater frequency of natural disasters owing to global warming, it necessary to assess security level of data centers in terms of their geographical locations. One must also take into account ease of accessibility during unexpected events and range of service availability in catastrophic situations. There is an urgent need to explore a cloud based data storage option by organizations that have facility of a single remotely located data center. These steps will help reduce effect of downtime during extreme situations.

Need Prioritization- Even if a comprehensive and in-depth business continuity plan is essential for those organizations whose requirements of data recovery are of extremely large scale, there has to be a critical analysis of the most significant applications, software, and data storage. These mission critical applications must be given priority while planning expenditure for business continuity. Precise identification of critical applications can avoid unnecessary spending on less important applications.

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