Business Continuity and the Cloud

4 Feb

For the last number of weeks there have been many blogs posted about what Business Continuity is, how it is defined and so on from members of my team.  In previous blogs from ‘billynomates2012 and ‘mirra2 they have given in introduction to the topic while progressing onto the planning behind business continuity, the creation of a plan for a SME, also touching on the topic of putting the plan into action after a disaster such as Hurricane Katrina and a then giving details on a disaster recovery plan (DRP). For this blog I will look to discuss something different from a business continuity side and also this area has not been looked upon yet. And that is business continuity and the cloud.

From the previous blogs that have been posted my understanding of business continuity is that in the event that a disaster occurs how can an organisation stay in business? The disaster can range from a localised incident to loss of power or an incident on a much bigger scale such as natural disaster like hurricane Katrina which billynomates2012 covered already. In having a business continuity plan in place in the wake of a disaster the organisation will be covered for the core functions, the data and the system.

With more and more organisations now outsourcing some of their key business elements to the cloud the executive needs to be a lot more involved with the Business Continuity Professional in identifying some of the crucial areas that need to be addressed when choosing the correct Cloud Service Provider.

When people talk about the cloud they mention high availability, scalability, on demand services (PaaS, IaaS, SaaS), redundancy and diversity. But the purpose of this blog is to determine how the cloud can help aid in the BCP. There are three areas which I am going to look at and they are information, technology and people and location.

Information

The cloud has many benefits when it comes to storing information and data and this is one advantage for a business. In the event of a disaster having your data stored confidentially with a trusted Cloud based service can allow your data to be readily available and easily accessed. There are some issues though when it comes to storing an organisations data in certain jurisdictions and territory. This will only apply to regulated organisations and this will help determine their service provider. Also the matter of data integrity needs to be addressed for the BCP and DRP.

Technology

“Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a provision model in which an organization outsources the equipment used to support operations, including storage, hardware, servers and networking components. The service provider owns the equipment and is responsible for housing, running and maintaining it. The client typically pays on a per-use basis.” [1]

When a BCP has to be provided for data centre(s) IaaS (definition above) provides a very strong case for being implemented. VoIP services could be used as a business continuity planning measure to provide adequate telephony cover,

People & Location

For many business and organisations the internet and broadband has changed the way in which business is conducted. Staff are located all over the world and communicate with each other instantly. When companies utilise the cloud based services and have a distributed workforce the issue of people and location are less of a concern. With regards to a business continuity scenario, in the wake of a disaster, the tangible option would be to inform to staff to work from home as they would be able to access the systems which are running in the cloud. For example, when organisations are in partnership with trusted cloud services they have access to a high availability network and exclusive connection to the network and it is because of this that critical business functions may still be performed in the event that internet is not available due to the trusted network connection.

Source:

  1. http://searchcloudcomputing.techtarget.com
  2. http://wordpress.com
  3. http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Cloud-Computing/How-to-Ensure-Business-Continuity-with-Cloud-Computing/
  4. http://www.businesscontinuityblog.com/

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