5 Tips for Improving Your Business Continuity

Today, any company needs to plan disaster recovery around cloud-based solutions. In the digital landscape, you must protect your organization from unplanned downtime or, worse, loss of critical data. Luckily, IT and cloud technologies help you to better manage your teams and data in scale.

Get Executive Buy-in

Before any IT or cloud-based technology can help you recover from data disasters, you need to purchase and deploy it first. For this, you need support from top-level management. However, executive buy-in is only the beginning of the process. Support from relevant C-suite executives ensures harmonious interoperability, which is essential for business continuity solutions that usually cut across departments.

Manage Traffic on the Cloud

For businesses that rely on traffic, global traffic management and server load balancing are critical operational considerations. Just minutes of downtime can cost the company not only lost revenue, but also lost customers.

IT and cloud-based disaster recovery allows operations to continue by switching between a number of redundant infrastructures. This allows you to maintain uptime while your tech team identifies and addresses the problem.

Virtualize for Agile Solutions

Share, replicate and back up workloads and images using virtualization to minimize the risk of data loss. Virtualization can span departments, locations and compatible technologies. Better yet, you can align virtualization with your company’s compliance policies by giving access and data rights to only specific personnel. This keeps your disaster recovery and redundancy fail-safes agile and flexible enough while maintaining data privacy.

Customize Company- and Process-Specific Practices

As downtime occurs, the IT department tracks down the problem while the customer-facing teams minimize brand damage. Meanwhile, the company shifts from standard operations to disaster recovery policies. Business continuity is an orchestra that cloud-based technologies not only assist in making more efficient, but ultimately empower to become as company or process specific as possible.

The Tech Solution for Business Continuity is Not Just an IT-only Issue

You need to get rid of the mindset that any technological solution belongs solely to the IT department. This creates barriers to more efficient reactions to downtime and hinders departmental cooperation. Any cloud-based solution that your company adopts needs to have a responsibility matrix aligned with your business continuity plan. This ensures that only the valid personnel execute the proper procedures that safeguard your company’s sensitive data.

Business continuity relies on the fact that everything fails eventually. Cloud-based technologies allow you to recover from data disasters and grow your business in scale in spite of them.

The Cloud is Ubiquitous – and so is its security

Of course you’re concerned …

The tabloids are abuzz with tales of hackers stealing salacious celebrity selfies stored on the Cloud, and of course the furor dies with next week’s issue of People Magazine.  The thought of Cloud based business data being compromised is a different matter, and you’re right to be concerned about ubiquitous computing resulting in ubiquitous hacking attempts. Fortunately, efforts to secure the cloud are maintaining the pace of the unprecedented growth of the cloud itself.

Now for the good news

The need to modify infrastructure to meet the alphabet soup of compliance regulations (SOX, GLB, HIPPA, FISMA) is already a reality to the vast majority of enterprises, and valuable time and resources are used that take away from their core business efforts. The good news is that security is one more IT function outsourced to your Cloud Service Provider, and that the provider has more resources to deal with security than your business.  The learning curve that comes with the design, implementation, and maintenance of data security (which most enterprises already are involved in) are the responsibility of the service provider, who deals with them on a daily basis.

The benefit of delegating this responsibility to the Cloud Service Provider will increase in value as regulation becomes more exacting in implementation and scope. According to a survey by the nonprofit Cloud Security Alliance, 73% of respondents call for a Global Consumer Bill of Rights concerning Data privacy. Anyone who has dealt with modifying their infrastructure for data privacy knows the value of outsourcing the details of this effort!

Who’s setting the standards?

As cloud technology matures, so do best practices and standards. The Cloud Security Alliance promotes “the use of best practices for providing security assurance within Cloud Computing”. The Board of Directors includes CXOs of Microsoft, Coca Cola, Sallie Mae and Zynga. The CSA’s Cloud Controls Matrix contains 269 standards covering every aspect of Cold Security implementation, operation and maintenance, including Data Security, Audit Assurance, Business Continuity, and Access, Threat & Vulnerability Management.  The standards document is available at

What Questions should I ask of a Cloud Service Provider?

In short, your expectations for a Cloud Provider are the same as those you are expected to implement in the traditional IT space. The Financial Times of London recommends asking the following:

Where is the Physical location of the data?

Who has access the data?

How is data encrypted and authenticated?

What policies are in place to handle security breaches?

What are your procedures for transferring service to another provider should that be necessary?

In Conclusion

The evidence of the benefits of Cloud Computing are overwhelming, and the marketplace has responded. According to iCorps Technologies, 2014 is the first year the majority of computing workloads take place in the cloud (51% versus 49% in the traditional IT Space).

If you are working in the tradition IT space, you are already dealing with security issues, and with the pain of a learning curve. As Cloud computing becomes the rule and not the exception, security issues will migrate to providers with resources and expertise beyond that of most organizations – and give you one less thing to worry about.