Business Continuity – operational reliability can be planned

Date: 24.07.2020

Business Continuity - gridscale

Always On – this is the goal of the Business Continuity Plan. After all, the loss or even the restriction of the ability to work is a worst-case scenario for every company. This is especially true for companies whose ability to work and risk management is heavily dependent on the IT infrastructure.

Even though all companies should take a close look at how they increase their crisis resilience, this is even more important for IT companies, because here the IT area is usually the initial part of the entire value chain.

The core of any crisis resilience is to maintain this value chain as unchanged as possible, in other words, to increase the “value chain resilience”. Highly available IT operations on the basis of a powerful and fail-safe IT infrastructure are an absolute necessity for this and a central component of risk assessment.

But how do I achieve the highest possible business continuity and value chain resilience? The cloud can be a good technical tool here. But far more important is forward-looking planning and a proven business continuity plan, in line with the 6P motto: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

The Business Continuity Plan (BCP)

A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) describes how a company can provide services even in times of crisis. The BCP identifies relevant threats and documents how to maintain value creation and operational capability as far as possible in such a scenario.

In 5 steps to the Business Continuity Plan

ANALYSIS AND EVALUATION

In the event of a crisis, it will not always be possible to maintain 100% of the business-critical processes (depending on the severity of the crisis, of course). Therefore, a classification and evaluation of the individual processes or the associated systems according to relevance is the first step towards a reliable business continuity plan.

Every company should ask itself the honest question which systems are critical and therefore absolutely necessary, which are desirable and which are dispensable for the primary maintenance of the value chain.

IDENTIFY THREAT

Once the various systems have been analysed and evaluated, the next sensible step is to do exactly that with potential threats. Which processes & systems are threatened by which scenarios: pandemics threaten employees, cyberattacks threaten IT, natural disasters or fires threaten the office and, unfortunately, much more.

DEFINE MEASURES

The next question is how we can protect our relevant systems from the identified threats. Appropriate measures should be developed for this purpose. These should be formulated as concretely as possible and include, for example, fallbacks, contact persons or technical measures. For example, the risk of data loss in the data center due to a natural disaster can be avoided by storing all data geo-redundantly.

FORM BC-TEAM AND APPOINT RESPONSIBLE PERSONS

The previously defined, mainly technical, measures can in some cases be automated. However, it is still advisable to distribute responsibilities and to form a dedicated business continuity team that controls all processes in an emergency.

In addition, practice shows that such a team can effectively reduce the overall risk for the company through constant monitoring and the ongoing control and development of the business continuity plan. After all, a trained situation can be better handled in case of doubt than an untrained one.

REGULAR REVIEW

Just like the continuous optimization of the BCP, a detailed post-mortem analysis is one of the important components. If an emergency has occurred, it is worth checking afterwards whether the measures taken actually worked or what can be improved to be even better prepared for the next time.

Cloud-specific challenges

As already mentioned at the beginning, the IT infrastructure often belongs to a core structure in the value chain, whose resilience to crises must be guaranteed. In principle, it does not matter whether it is operated on-premise in a traditional architecture or cloud-based.

The advantages of a cloud infrastructure are, however, obvious: scaling in any direction, cost flexibility, redundancy and a certain independence from hardware are just a few points here.

Nevertheless, various points should be clarified when using the cloud, whether in a private, public or hybrid cloud scenario. This includes some key data on the data center (location, access control, etc.) as well as the structure of the cloud: data backup, fallback and support are just a few examples.

In view of the criticality of IT, appropriate IT service continuity management is usually closely linked to business continuity planning. This ensures the trouble-free operation of IT services and clarifies responsibilities within the company, the cloud service provider and the data center operator.

The Business Continuity Plan and the 6Ps

In theory, the solutions for business continuity planning usually sound very simple. Through planning and preparation, many crises can be mastered and a company’s ability to act guaranteed. In practice, however, this often involves some effort and is not always accepted, true to the motto: “there is no glory in prevention”. Nevertheless, such planning has proven itself and can save a lot of money, time and nerves in an emergency.

The IT infrastructure requires special attention in such a plan, as it is a particularly sensitive point in the value chain. Cloud infrastructures are no exception, but in an emergency and with good planning they can cushion or even completely avoid a large number of risks.


Nicolas Tuschen

Nicolas Tuschen | Senior Online Marketing Manager
Nico is Online Marketing Manager with focus on SEO and is responsible for (organic) online marketing at gridscale. At the same time, he is a good example of the fact that by studying literature one can not just become a taxi driver. He discovered his passion for SEO by chance, but since then has consistently expanded it: from startup, agency to publisher, from B2B to B2C, from offpage to onpage.

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