Mike Fraser is the CEO of private cloud consulting firm, VDI Space, and guest blogger for The Recovery Zone.
A few weeks ago, I sat in a consulting meeting and noticed how the concepts of disaster recovery and business continuity were frequently paired together. In the consultation, a business was trying to figure out how to differentiate itself from the competition and wanted a business continuity solution, not just a disaster recovery solution. In my customer’s mind, a business continuity solution consisted of a fault tolerant solution with no downtime, focusing solely on the technology piece.
Now, I went in and dived deeper into what business continuity really was, as it encapsulates their entire business—not just the technology piece; which is what backups, disaster recovery, or even fault tolerant solutions would provide. The goal was to get them to realize that they needed to provide a complete business-based solution to their customers that would ensure as little downtime as possible for their whole business, such as a crisis personnel plan, which would assign certain personnel to certain tasks in the case of a business outage, whatever that may be.
We went to an even more granular level and broke down business continuity into two parts, the business side, and the technology side. The business side is what all of the C-Level executives would deem important to keep the business running, with operational procedures, logistics, etc. The technology side is what the IT director deems important to keep the technology side running—disaster recovery. This can include technology that will ensure the recovery time objective (RTO) can be as short as deemed necessary by the business.
This understanding brought into perspective that, due to the high cost of true fault tolerance, expensive software, and lots of additional hardware, business continuity for most businesses means just having disaster recovery, with a balance between RTO, cost, and functionality. If they truly need fault tolerance, then provide to them fault tolerance, but they will also need to realize that they will be paying a lot more for something that is in place “just in case”. Once you talk with a customer, you will realize that they might be ok with an hour or two of down-time in the case of a disaster instead of no down-time, when they weigh in the cost of fault tolerance versus other disaster recovery solutions.
The technical side of disaster recovery accompanied by a solid business continuity plan with contingencies on the business side will ensure continued business operations– and that’s really what business continuity is. Business continuity, simply put, is really a matter of ensuring a business can continue to operate no matter what the world throws at it.