Business Continuity Planning and the Cloud

IT operations are a crucial aspect of most organisations. One of the main concerns therefore, is business continuity, since companies rely on their information systems to run their operations. If a system becomes unavailable, company operations may be impaired or stopped completely. Consequently, it is necessary to provide a reliable infrastructure for IT operations, in order to minimize any chance of disruption. Information security is equally a concern.

As a consequence of these concerns and the increase of the uptake of cloud computing, businesses and government organisations are now scrutinizing data centres to a higher degree, as it is imperative that they assure the integrity and functionality of their hosted computer environment as much as they do their local environment.

It is notable then, that data centre problems have been prevalent in the news recently. In July, for example, there was a major power cut at Level 3’s data centre in East London, which knocked dozens of company’s offline, as well as many websites and hosted solutions. The outage was allegedly due to an electrical fault which occurred at 3.35am, yet the ADSL customers were still offline at 8.21am.

IT infrastructure company Pulsant experienced a similar power outage at its data centre in Maidenhead at the end of May. Consequently, many websites were cut off from the internet and were left to sort themselves out the following day, once the electricity supply had been restored. In both cases, the Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) device that is supposed to protect computers and network equipment from unexpected power failures, failed.

Even giants like Twitter have hit the headlines for data centre failures. And while it is tempting to just accept that these things “happen”, this is little comfort for companies in the event of a data centre failure, network breakdown or power outage.

This not only emphasizes the need for an effective business continuity plan which covers your business’s live environment, but also its hosted infrastructure, i.e. the data centre. As we have learnt from the examples previously cited, data centres are not always completely disaster proof, so the need to implement an effective business continuity plan which covers all areas of your business is imperative.

A further step to ensure business continuity in the event of a disaster is to ensure that business continuity planning and testing is a priority of your chosen data centre. For example, problems such as those noted above can easily be prevented by routine testing of UPS devices and power generators as part of a stringent business continuity plan. Ultimately, a company’s data is its biggest asset, and it is therefore in a company’s best interests to use the most secure, efficient and resilient hosting facilities.

Are your cloud provider’s business continuity plans sufficient?

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