Demystifying Business Continuity
Business continuity and disaster recovery are terms that are often used interchangeably, but actually have two separate meanings, and it is important for you to know the difference. Business continuity is the ability of the organization to continue the delivery of their products or services without interruption during an outage or failure event. Disaster recovery is a subset of business continuity and includes preparing the policies and procedures to enable the recovery of the tools and systems an organization needs to continue delivering products and services after suffering an outage or failure. Essentially, business continuity is being so well prepared that you do not suffer from the outage, because you have the preemptive plan in place to account for more than just the IT side of the outage, like having a recovery space to work, the employees to continue the work, and the power needed for it. Disaster recovery is needed when your services have gone down from an outage and now you need to recover.
An important term to know when business continuity is involved is HA or high availability, which means being continuously operational for as close as possible to 100% or “five nines” (99.999%) of the time. This is a difficult standard to achieve, but is the essence of business continuity.
Terms You Need to Know for Disaster Recovery
As far as disaster recovery (DR) terms go, the two most important are recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO). RTO is an easy term to explain; it’s the targeted duration of time you need to be back in business after a failure to avoid unacceptable consequences to your business. In other words, the amount of time you can handle being down. RPO is a bit trickier; it’s the determined point in time that you need to recover back to. Meaning, the amount of data you can be okay with losing. For instance, If you experience an outage, how far back and how often is your data saved and backed up? Will you only lose the last 15 minutes’ worth of data, or have you lost a whole day’s worth? How much of your old data do you need to recover in order to continue usual operations? E-mail archives from five years ago, for example, probably don’t need to be in your RPO.
These factors are extremely personal to each individual company. To a small mom and pop shop, they might not require an extensive DR plan, meaning they may be able to handle being down for a couple hours, and will probably not need to have backups being taken every 15 minutes. To a large enterprise; however, it may need to have a very short amount of time to recover, and may need to have backups running every 15 minutes to ensure the least amount of data is lost during an outage.
Why Is It Important?
Suffering from an outage or failure can cost your business a good amount of money. You need to figure out what that downtime will cost your company, which will help you set a budget for the solution that you will need. A HA solution will obviously be more expensive, so attaching a price tag to your business continuity and disaster recovery needs is of high priority, that way you can let your budget guide your plan.
Posted by: Tony Robison, Director of Technology