The cost of data center outages is now an average of $10,000 per minute, up 38 percent from 2010, according to the Ponemon Institute. For businesses subject to regulatory compliance, the costs could be even higher as penalties hit home.

And, there is a risk of major disruption to customer service, as British Airways (BA) found out on one of the busiest weekends of the year. When its global IT infrastructure went down following a power supply problem, the airline had to cancel all flights in and out of London airports on a holiday weekend with further impact on BA customers all round the world. The disruption to service continued for several days.

Low Priority for Business Continuity

Business continuity is not a subject to be taken lightly. Yet, in the drive for digital transformation, business continuity seems a minor issue. Information Week’s survey of CIO priorities, for example, found that only 29 percent of respondents saw availability as a priority.

Part of the problem is the cost and relative inflexibility of traditional business continuity solutions. These take the form of dual colocation facilities or a premise data center linked to a colocation facility. Infrastructure is mirrored at the second site and the sites are typically connected by redundant circuits.

There are cost disadvantages as businesses have to pay for dedicated facilities all year round, as well as incurring the cost of redundant circuits.

Take Continuity to the Cloud

An alternative approach is emerging that utilizes cloud services for back-up and business continuity services.  Businesses can retain their primary data center on premise or in a collocation facility, using the cloud as the secondary environment.

Costs are lower because no physical infrastructure is required and businesses can use the facility on a pay-as-you-go basis. Businesses also avoid the cost of replicating data and synchronizing systems following changes in production data because data and software are replicated automatically at agreed intervals. Connectivity can take the form of an Internet link or a private direct connection.

Flexible Continuity Options

Service providers offer several levels of cloud business continuity to meet different recovery time objectives.

  • A hot site solution is the most expensive option. It would be suitable for mission critical applications, databases or services.
  • A warm or cold site provides recovery facilities, but with some brief downtime. This solution is suitable for less critical applications and is available on a pay-as-you-use basis.
  • Workload –based solutions are suitable when a business only requires recovery for specific services.
  • Backup-based recovery is suitable for data, applications and services where availability is a lower priority.

The Ability to Respond

To meet the more critical requirements, service providers must have the scalability and agility to respond immediately when you need access to critical resources. If a disaster does occur, you activate the secondary resources in the cloud and let users know that they should access the cloud rather the primary data center.

Using the cloud for business continuity is an efficient, cost-effective solution that eliminates the costs and inflexibility of traditional systems.

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