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Business continuity now affordable



Implementing a disaster recovery solution to carry on operating after a problem is something thought of as an expensive exercise. But, says WARREN OLIVIER, now companies of any size are able to implement a solution as it is easier and more affordable than before.

Business continuity planning — how to carry on operating even after a disaster — is still often thought of an expensive exercise that only large corporates can afford but it’s now easier than ever before, and affordable for most companies. In the era of the always-on business, failing to do this planning is irresponsible.

The tools available in the virtualised modern data centre can automate much of the process of recovering after a disaster, whether it’s due to natural causes like earthquake, fires and floods or human action like computer viruses and terrorist attacks.

Business continuity planning starts with your backup and data protection policies. What data and applications are most critical to your organisation? Where are they stored and how do you back them up? In the event of a disaster, who needs access and when, and where will you restore to?

These business process questions are central, and especially for companies who are facing the growing demands for always-on availability. A good business continuity plan should include a ‚Äòrunbook’ or script that sets out exactly what needs to be done, by whom and in what order. For example, an Exchange server won’t connect unless Active Directory is running, so you know that you will need Active Directory before you can get your email back.

Once the runbook is set up much of the process can be automated so that key staff don’t have to make important decisions in the heat and pressure of the moment. You’ll always want to ensure that the actual decision to fail over to your disaster recovery plan is made by an actual human, preferably a C-level executive, because once you’ve failed over it’s difficult to rewind. But once the big red button is pushed, automation except at a few key points is extremely helpful.

This is only possible if the right tools are in place. If all your servers are still physical, or if you’re using data protection tools designed for physical environments, the recovery process is still going to be long and complex. But if you have virtualised servers, and are protecting those with the appropriate tools, sophisticated disaster recovery and continuity planning is well within the reach of a business with as few as four or five servers.

Business owners should consult their IT service providers about opportunities for including business continuity within their service contracts. Ask them about their own disaster planning as well, especially where they’re storing their off-site backups and how quickly they will recover after a disaster. If you’re outsourcing any of your applications to a hosted provider, these questions are essential.

* Warren Olivier is the regional manager of Veeam

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA