Once again the world is gripped by doomsday news. Ever since the Y2K bug, it seems that every year we have some analyst telling us that the end is nigh. If you are like me, you have started to become immune to all this wild hysteria, usually designed to promote the sales of the product or service of the company, or industry, that sponsored the report. However, be that as it may, one thing all this fear-mongering does highlight, is the need to have a plan in place for your business, should any of the doomsday scenarios come to pass.
Use Cloud Computing for an Effective Business Continuity Plan
Business continuity planning need not be something that only large corporates, with large budgets, can afford. Even businesses as small as two partners can put a plan in place to ensure they are able to continue their business despite a radical change in the environment in which they operate. The key part of defining your business continuity plan, is to identify your core operational systems and work processes, that you need to deliver services and products to your customers. Part of this, naturally, will be identifying your key suppliers, business partners and staff, that you need to ensure you can continue to provide your customers with a world-class service. Key to have a cost-effective plan is to design your systems and processes from the get-go with redundancy and flexibility in mind. i.e just like an architect designs a skyscraper with the ability to withstand an earthquake, so to should you design your business systems.
From an IT perspective this means three things:
* architecting your IT infrastructure and application systems to be distributed, no single point of failure,
* ensuring your systems have built-in data and application redundancy,
* and having the ability for these systems to be accessed securely from any location, at any time,
With the explosion of the Internet and telecommunications over the last decade , the ability to provide remote access to systems has become affordable for even the smallest companies. No longer do you need expensive leased lines to provide access to systems, in fact you no longer even need lines, but can access your corporate network wirelessly, thanks to the plethora of broadband options now available.
Hardware and Data Redundancy has Been Expensive – Until Now
The problem that made business continuity, and disaster recovery in particular, extremely expensive, has always been the need for redundant hardware, both on-site, and at hot-standby remote sites, for those corporates that could afford it. Even for those that could, it was, or is, very seldom the case that the disaster recovery plans provided for exact replicas of the current IT infrastructure, with only the absolute minimum hardware and resources being provided for. If these plans ever needed to be implemented in reality, it is unlikely that they would have provided the resources necessary to run the IT infrastructure, even at a reduced level of performance.
In addition the process of backuping up critical data and applications, has always been problematic. Constant vigilance is necessary to perform backups and more importantly test restoring of data. Despite all kinds of policy and procedures in place the IT department comes to the realisation that the backups have been corrupt for the last two weeks when you needed to restore data, or even worse realising that you are missing one critical file that is necessary to restore your systems to working order, after a system crash.
But over the last three years, an amazing development with respect to IT has occurred. The advent of Cloud Computing has made the provision of dynamically scalable and virtualized resources widely, and cheaply, available. Corporates such as Google and Amazon now provide highly available,scalable, and redundant services at affordable rates. Such services include:
* Email (Google),
* Office productivity applications (Google),
* Web application hosting (Google),
* Data storage (Amazon), and
* Virtual Servers (Amazon)
What’s more, these services are aimed at businesses, allowing you to integrate them into your business processes and at the same time allowing you to “brand” them as your own systems. Any company that builds their infrastructure on top of these services will automatically have build-in hardware and data redundancy and backup,. whats more, since they are service provided on the Internet cloud, you automatically have remove access to these resources from anywhere in the world!.
Start architecting your IT infrastructure to take advantage of Cloud Computing.
So if you are setting up your IT infrastructure, or planning your future infrastructure architecture, you should seriously consider basing your systems on cloud computing services. If you haven’t got any plans to change your current systems, perhaps you should reconsider?