By Amir Hashmi, CEO and Founder of zsah
A business continuity plan (BCP) is a thorough and complex plan to fight the ever-present and ever-costly risk of downtime, and moving operations to the cloud is the best shortcut to take.
A Business Continuity Plan is, broadly speaking, a set of processes and principles to improve resilience and ensure a business can continue functioning. Due to the importance of IT to productivity for almost every organisation in the 21st Century – downtime, when IT systems are offline, is its antithesis.
Thanks to the rapid adoption of digital tools spurred on by the pandemic and the general move to online we have seen throughout the world, there is a tremendous amount of risk out there for businesses with online assets, from cyber attacks and ransomware to natural disasters and power outages. However, using cloud-based IT assets such as remote desktops, SaaS applications and cloud storage of data can be a shortcut to protecting their continuity – and therefore the continuity of your business.
According to Veeam’s 2021 Data Protection Report, the average cost of downtime is $84,650 per hour, that’s $1,410 per minute. Naturally, this figure is skewed by larger organisations reporting higher sums. Still, small, and medium businesses are increasingly impacted as they are seen as easier targets – and they have far less capital to absorb the blow.
Although downtime has an infinite number of causes, from natural disasters to cyber attacks, two factors remain consistent: it is costly for modern businesses and often preventable.
The key to this prevention is a good business continuity plan. Suppose we disregard the part of BCPs that consider the physical security of assets and focus on the digital continuity of IT systems. In that case, we can say that a good BCP focuses on three things, and according to IBM, these are:
• High availability: the systems provided in a business that allows the enterprise to have access to applications that allow it to still operate even if it experiences local failures in areas such as IT, processes, and physical facilities.
• Continuous operations: the system a business has in place that allows business to run smoothly during times when disruption or maintenance takes place either planned or otherwise.
• Disaster recovery: the system a business has in place that allows it to recover its data centre at another location safely and securely if there is a significant event which means the current site either damaged beyond repair or inoperable.
Of course, this is not a universally prescriptive solution. As businesses have varied sizes and needs, one size never fits all. However, many of these essential issues are automatically covered if enterprises move storage, desktops, and digital tools to the cloud rather than store and operate them from on-site servers or even on personal devices.
Firstly, cloud providers automatically encrypt and protect your information through extensive cyber security measures and often duplicate it across multiple sites, areas, or even time zones to protect it against physical or cyber damage. Doing this yourself is a costly and time-consuming task with huge risks if not done correctly.
Here, you benefit from the economy of scale, as huge deep pockets develop and invest in the most thorough, innovative, and automated protection measures. This means that your data, your applications, and therefore the continuity of your business is protected from all but the most apocalyptic and unforeseen of circumstances, including data loss, power outages, ransomware attacks, and many other causes of downtime.
You are now (nearly) continuously operable and, just as importantly, are operable from anywhere. This, in turn, makes hybrid or working from home a far easier and safer experience for new and existing members of your team, with cybersecurity measures and encryption embedded in your teams’ operating systems and tools, no matter what device they use.
As the ability to hybrid work is seen as an expectation of staff across the board, and most of the modern, industrialised world, making this process more accessible is a wise investment to attract and retain future employees.
It’s not a magic cure, but it’s a start
The cloud is the obvious answer for a company that requires always-accessible and always-operational data storage and applications. This is true whether you use public cloud resources or a dedicated, off-premises private cloud server operated by a dedicated IT team on your behalf.
The cloud is nothing new, and it certainly is not a single-point cure to IT pain points. Still, it is undoubtedly one of the most transformational changes you can make to aid both security and operational efficiency.
However, if you want to avoid unmonitored cloud usage causing a surge in costs, make sure you have the resources to dedicate to its use. Better yet, outsource to experts: an IT managed-service provider will ensure that your move onto the cloud, and its continued use, will be managed effectively.