Why Companies Need A Next-Gen Approach To Business Continuity

During the pandemic, many organisations embraced a hybrid environment, allowing employees to work from home or anywhere else. On top of this, many have adopted or are now implementing infrastructure-modernisation initiatives and digital-transformation programs.

These significant changes bring various challenges, including increased complexity, potential vulnerabilities, and the burning question of how to keep operations running smoothly during a natural, hardware, human or cyber disaster.

To solve those challenges, IT teams must reevaluate their approach to business continuity. The IT metrics to measure business continuity remain the same: uptime, the availability of data and apps, and backup and recovery. But the widespread transition to remote work and digital technologies demands a new approach to business continuity that acknowledges IT's growing responsibility to enable a hybrid workplace and keep all digital systems up and always running.

This approach applies to every company that relies on technology to do business. For example, the French restaurant down the street that uses cloud-based software allows customers to order and pay on their phones. If there is a disruption, if customers place orders that don't go through, the restaurant loses not only the orders but the trust of those customers.

For every connected company, continuity is now an absolute requirement, whether that company is in the business of high tech or haute cuisine.

As they get increasingly digital, there is greater pressure than ever on organizations to achieve 24/7 uptime. An independent global study commissioned by Arcserve showed that 83% of IT decision-makers believe 12 hours is the maximum acceptable downtime for critical systems before a measurable negative impact on business.
And, for many businesses, even this is too long. Indeed, according to a 2021 study from IBM, just one hour of downtime for a single server can cost firms $100,000. So, for an organization with 1,000 servers, that comes to $10 million per hour.

To minimise downtime, today's organisations must take a next-gen approach to business continuity. Here's how they can do it.

Create A Plan

Every organisation should have a business continuity plan. It is a step-by-step plan that will guide your response to a disruption, a time when speed and clear thinking are of the essence. Your plan should encompass any contingency - natural disaster, electrical outage, or cyber attack - so you can address the cause, minimise downtime, and control damage to your revenue and reputation.

Your plan should be comprehensive. It should list the resources needed in a crisis, such as data backups and storage locations. It should also include workers' steps to properly alert company leaders, maintain customer communication, and sustain productivity.

Companies should test the plan regularly to ensure it will work when needed. Testing will help you identify and address weak points before being exposed to a crisis. With a robust and regularly tested plan, you can move forward with confidence that you'll be able to safeguard your data and restore it if necessary when a cyberattack or natural disaster strikes.

Make Data Backups Front Of Mind

Most companies will suffer a data-loss event at some point. In the recent survey commissioned by Arcserve, 74% of midsize companies said they had experienced data loss in the past five years, and 52% of respondents said they could not recover all their data after a loss.

Businesses should adopt a 3-2-1-1 data-backup strategy to prevent data loss. It means three backup copies of your data on two different media (disk and tape, for example), with one copy stored offsite for disaster recovery. The final 1 is immutable backup storage. Immutable backups are the key to successful disaster recovery and business continuity. They convert your data to a write once, read many times format that can't be altered, deleted, or encrypted.

Establish Your RPO And RTO  

A solid business continuity plan should also include recovery point objectives (RPO) and recovery time objectives (RTO), along with steps to achieve them.

RPO is the amount of data your business can tolerate losing in a disruption before the company experiences serious harm. It's the benchmark you use to decide how often you should back up your data and determine the infrastructure you need to enable that backup schedule. Companies can set different RPOs for different functions of the business. For example, dynamic files like financial transactions need a short RPO. Due to the number of variables involved, the recreation of such files is often not possible if they're lost. Static files like employee records can have a longer RPO.

RTO is the maximum amount of time after a disruption before your operations should be up and running normally again. Once you've established your RTO, you can make informed decisions about your data resilience plan. So, if you decide that your organisation can tolerate only one hour of downtime, you'll know you need to build a recovery program that enables you to be back up and running within an hour.

Final Takeaway

In the old days, companies waited for disruptions to occur, and if they did, they learned, adjusted, and moved on. Nowadays, with the threat of disruptions frequent and the damage done by data loss potentially fatal, companies need a next-gen approach to business continuity.

They need a solid and regularly tested plan. Organisations with such a plan will withstand the threats coming at them fast and furious, from natural disasters to cyber attacks. Organisations that don't have such a plan will find themselves in the rearview mirror.

Florian Malecki is Executive Vice President of Marketing at Arcserve

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