Business continuity, disaster recovery and the cloud

The game show ‘Deal or no Deal’ takes advantage of one of the most intriguing aspects of some human’s psychology – the belief that nothing possibly can go wrong, or at the very least an excessive focus on presumed positive outcomes over equally likely negative ones. It is due to this phenomenon that many businesses completely fail to put satisfactory disaster recovery processes in place, believing that no such disaster will ever befall their organisation, and thus planning for such an eventuality would merely represent a waste of money.

Thankfully, not all businesses are so lacking in foresight, and thus make the requisite preparations to avert disaster should some unforeseen circumstances occur. Such instances can range from a simple computer virus to natural disasters such as earthquakes and flooding, but even the most trivial system glitch can be potentially disastrous if you do not have an adequate back-up plan.

If you fail to plan correctly for an IT contingency, you really run the risk of literally jeopardising all your company’s data, and ultimately the company itself. This is not an alarmist assessment of the situation, it is simply reality, and not paying heed to the possibility that all of your systems can go kaput in the blinking of an eye is a combination of extreme naivety and negligence that you could regret for the rest of your life.

However, one big positive to mention at this point is that the increasing prevalence of cloud-based systems is a huge advantage for an effective business continuity policy. Naturally, not housing all of your data on-site within internal systems makes recovering it a hell of a lot easier should the worst come to the worst. In fact, it could be argued that this is one of the biggest advantages to the cloud.

Disaster recovery and business continuity has traditionally been an extremely logistically complex and often expensive process. Usually it has been achieved via mirroring the company’s existing system in some way, often by purchasing expensive hardware and constantly backing it up. This is not only expensive in terms of the initial outlay, but also the time spent maintaining such a system often costs a business a great deal in terms of both physical and human resources.

The cloud model has really represented a paradigm shift in this area, offering a new way of solving disaster recovery problems which is lightweight and cost-effective in every conceivable way. Negating the need for expensive back-up systems, cloud-based recovery is obviously not located within the physical premises of your business. It enables a very short period of downtime in any business continuity situation, and the amount of data likely to be lost by a cloud-based system compared to traditional IT networks is highly minimal.

Data replication within the cloud is automatic. This sort of convenience was once a dream, but today it is quite simply a reality. The need for duplicating either software or hardware goes out of the window completely with cloud-based solutions, which is a hugely positive thing in both cost and convenience terms. Furthermore, the monthly cost of signing up for a cloud package is usually extremely competitive, meaning that the lack of long-term expense incurred by such a system is also very attractive.

In the highly competitive world in which we now reside, and particularly in these austere economic times, many small and medium enterprises understandably wish to keep costs to a bare minimum. Thus, preparing for a disaster which we may believe will never come, particularly when it is economically restrictive to do so, may be very low on many SMEs list of priorities. How refreshing it is to know then that the cloud computing model offers businesses an elegant, simple, cost-effective solution for disaster recovery that is so superior to previous systems that it is almost a no-brainer to sign up for it.

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