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A little help from your friends

For many businesses, disaster recovery planning extends as far as a nightly backup to tape which is then thrown into the IT manager’s car boot. Tapes are circulated regularly and everything seems to be fine – until you actually need to recover your data.

Even if your current regime does work, and files can be recovered, this break/fix approach to disaster recovery is slow and cumbersome, particularly when you are only interested in a single file or folder. Everything works – just not as efficiently as they might.

Speed is everything

Customers expect businesses to respond quickly – they will not hang around while you wait for a restore to complete. One study found that customers expect a response to their emails in one hour or less for instance.

This need for instant recovery has led to the development of business continuity planning, BCP. The overall goal of BCP is to reduce downtime to virtually zero by deploying fail-over systems that allow your business to keep running, no matter what.

Not just data loss

BCP also goes beyond simple data loss. Any incident that prevents employees from coming into the office can be potentially disastrous. The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) estimates that the snow of winter 2013 cost affected businesses an average of £52,770 each. These costs were incurred through lost productivity, rather than lost data.

It is also important to realise that the CMI estimates do not include ongoing secondary costs, such as long term damage to brand reputation or lost customers.

The problem with redundancy

The only way to guarantee instant failover is through the use of redundant systems, doubling up on hardware and software to take over as soon as something goes wrong. However, a complete fail over system is incredibly expensive – you will need to duplicate everything

To save money, you can prioritise certain systems for instant fail over, and use traditional data recovery methods for non-mission critical applications. Cheaper than duplicating everything, you will still need to allow additional capital budget for hardware and software, and staffing costs to cover the increased administrative burden.

Investment in BCP is important, but building on site redundancy is not the most cost effective option.

Partnering with the Cloud

Modern Cloud platforms offer a far more robust, economical alternative. Moving key applications and data into the Cloud, allows your business to take advantage of enterprise grade systems without the usual capital spend associated with IT hardware. Your data is stored securely on clustered servers that can be specially configured to fail over instantly without needing your involvement. In fact, Cloud technologies are designed in such a way that you will never know if one of the underlying systems has failed.

The Cloud extends beyond simple data storage too. Leveraging hosted applications, you can offload your key software to take advantage of the same features. So in the event of a local disaster, like snow or floods, your employees can access all of your key systems from home – all they need is a broadband internet connection. Achieving the gold standard of BCM, your business will be available around the clock, no matter what.

As an added bonus, your new disaster recovery platform is billed on a subscription basis, switching from capital spend to operational spend allowing you to better control costs and depreciation. Your business gains access to enterprise class systems, a team of experts to manage the underlying infrastructure, and the ability to keep your business up and running around the clock.

To learn more about hosted applications and how your business can leverage the power of the Cloud to improve your business continuity, please get in touch