5 key business continuity trends

Anyone who has no plans for the aftermath of a ransomware attack or other disaster is asking for trouble.

When you consider the number of businesses that fail to reopen when severely impacted by such events, it is not a good idea to neglect business continuity (BC).

See below for some of the key trends in the business continuity market:

1. It won’t happen to me

Unfortunately, the “it won’t happen to me” attitude remains prevalent when it comes to business continuity.

Despite all the talk of malware bringing businesses to their knees and extreme weather warnings, the majority of organizations still don’t bother with BC.

According to an report, 51% of businesses were caught off guard when COVID-19 hit. They had no business continuity plan to deal with the pandemic-based restrictions.

Many companies therefore tend to bury their heads in the sand with regard to future contingencies. Many are still waiting until they experience an attack or outage before taking steps to prevent it. It seems they believe such things will never happen to them – until they do.

“When critical systems become unavailable due to an infrastructure failure, human error or security breach, it can result in a costly business disruption,” said Chip Gibbons, CISO, thrivea provider of managed services.

“The best way to ensure an organization is prepared is to have business continuity and disaster recovery plans in place.”

2. Confused plans

Another trend is that no distinction is made between the different types of plans for major events.

While terms like disaster recovery and business continuity are often used interchangeably, there are important differences, says Thrive’s Gibbons.

It is critical to have both plans in place to reduce business impact and to clearly understand the role each plays.

Gibbons defines them as follows:

  • Business continuity plan: refers to how a business continues to operate when key systems fail or malfunction. A business continuity plan is a must-have for any organization and will keep a business running effectively even in the face of an unexpected disaster or tumultuous times, such as a global pandemic. The purpose of a business continuity plan is to know which processes can be kept and which need to be adapted. A plan allows you to prioritize what’s important. For example, not having access to email is not as important as losing customer data that allows you to complete an order or payment.
  • disaster recovery plan: refers to how specific platforms, data, and applications are recovered after a cyber-attack, disaster, or other failures. Essentially, a disaster recovery plan refers to the specific part of the business continuity plan that must be followed during and after data loss. Getting systems up and running after a data loss event is paramount to minimize downtime and business interruption.

3. BC and development

As companies increasingly rely on critical applications for their core business functions, more IT teams are incorporating more business continuity planning into their development projects, according to Ian Allton, solution architect, SIOS technology.

In other words, the smart companies don’t create BC functions and plans after the fact. They build their applications, set up their IT infrastructure – and then they start thinking about BC.

Instead, the emerging trend is for companies to incorporate BC planning, processes, and technologies into the early stages of application and IT environment planning.

4. Quickly recovers

The old standard used to be to recover data in systems within a day or two.

But gradually the time factor has been brought down. Now there is little tolerance for any delay between system failure and recovery.

“Organizations are deploying high-availability (HA) and DR solutions that automatically restore application functionality in minutes,” said Allton of SIOS Technology.

Allton sees the BC plan as the foundation for DR implementation that must recognize the distinction between failures and disasters as IT evaluates the different solutions for HA and DR.

For example, an important distinction concerns the location of redundant resources and whether you want to fail over to these resources or simply copy or replicate them.

“You can recover from an outage by using clustering software to run an application from a primary server node to a secondary server node over a LAN,” said Allton.

5. Geographical Separation

Power outages can affect a neighborhood, an entire city, or rarely an entire region. Other disasters typically have geographic constraints that can be predicted.

Companies that want to recover effectively and quickly from a disaster must ensure there is sufficient geographic separation between their locations, usually via a wide area network (WAN), said Allton of SIOS Technology.

For example, an area prone to flooding must have BC capabilities located somewhere outside of that flood area.

Similarly, a DR site may not be connected to the same power grid as the central data center.

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