Business Continuity and the Cloud: How Prepared Are You?

How long can your business sustain being offline? A month? A few days? Ideally this is a question that you never want to face—nor do many expect that they will need to face in this day-and-age of always-on, ever-connected technologies. But the truth of the matter is that business continuity must remain omnipresent in your thinking as an IT professional.

Business continuity can be defined as such: A loosely-defined set of planning, preparatory and related activities which are intended to ensure that an organization’s critical business functions will either continue to operate despite serious incidents or disasters that might otherwise have interrupted them, or will be recovered to an operational state within a reasonably short period.

Yes, even the cloud can be vulnerable.

Look no further than last year when an expired SSL certificate was linked to taking the Windows Azure storage cloud offline for more than a day. It happens. But the thing to keep in mind is this: Having updated disaster recovery procedures and policies that take into account using the cloud are essential.

Planning for Disaster

Here’s an interesting fact: Up to seven days is the timeframe that the majority of businesses are preparing to be offline. A recent study on Business Continuity from Gartner showed that 75% of respondents were planning for such a timeframe—and only 3% planned for an outage that might last a month or longer.

The idea of your business systems going down for longer than a month should make you feel sick to your stomach. In fact, being down a month is something most businesses wouldn’t be able to stomach, period. But I’ll go out on a limb and say that the chances of that occurring are trending towards ‘slim-to-none’.

For me, the more revealing statistic is the 86% of organizations that say they found themselves needing to enact a recovery plan in the past 24 months. Actually, no—this is the more revealing stat: The majority of organizations have little ability to determine if their business continuity program is effective. Here’s a closer look:

  • 35% use exercise results

  • 30% use status metrics

  • 27% use scorecards

  • Nearly half rely on audit reports

Take-Action Techniques

Recommendations from Gartner include the idea of build a three-year business continuity management program improvement road map based on annual maturity assessments; assessing that program to get a clear sense as to the longest stretch of time you could sustain under disaster conditions; and of course take the appropriate actions with your technology vendors.

Let’s hone in on that third recommendation. This is where those partners associated with cloud-based products and services must really step up to the table. You see, for me I do believe in the promise of always on, ever-connected technologies. And with it, I feel that much of the onus is on the technology community to guarantee that your business never faces the heartache of having data go offline.

For AEC Cloud, we maintain a business continuity plan that encompasses several levels and definitions of disaster recovery. Our standard solutions all include backup and recovery services running periodically throughout the day. These services are also archived offsite.

Then there are custom solutions. These may include a range of options from automated extraction and transfer of databases and files to a customer FTP site to high availability secondary sites. Making the choice on custom solutions typically will come down to considerations related to cost and level of risk related to recovery point and recovery time objectives.

And our commitment to your business continuity doesn’t end there:

  • Uptime: 100% uptime for the hosted software, platform, and infrastructure layers over the last five years.

  • Power and Connectivity: A team of experienced engineers working diligently to minimize any outages during your working hours and rectify any issues that may occur during routine maintenance and proactive monitoring of systems health.

  • Backup: All servers are backed up on tape using. Our backup and restore systems operate on dedicated and isolated network switches, cabling and NICs, which allows for backups and restorations without consuming valuable bandwidth. Using a multi-tier architecture with inherent redundancy, our Engineering team is always keeping close watch on each element of the environment.

  • Tested, Proven: Our systems have endured numerous natural disasters with zero downtime. In fact, during the North American blackout in August 2003, our systems experienced zero power or Internet connectivity downtime.

  • The Extra Step There are those companies, however, that are in need of just a bit more. We get it. That’s why we work with you to tailor Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery and Backup plans that meet your specific objectives for recovery. We do this across the entire software, platform and infrastructure stack.

After all, it’s a matter of assuring that you never need to face downtime.


Find out what AEC Cloud can do for your business migration to the cloud. Schedule a live demo today and see for yourself the possibilities we can offer.

Feel free to call us if you have any questions: 212-505-0381

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