1. When looking at implementing a business continuity plan, what are the main requirements an organisation should put in place?

Continuous availability of IT infrastructure, critical business systems and data are key components of a business continuity plan. But a good plan goes beyond this and should be considered from all aspects of the business. A comprehensive business continuity plan will outline how work can continue – how supporting applications can be accessed, data protected, where employees will work, how they will communicate and where materials and physical inventory can be made available. This is why Cloud-based delivery of IT is attractive to so many organisations; Cloud-based infrastructure, platforms and software typically enable access to critical systems from any location with an internet connection, supported by very high service availability guarantees and resilient, elastic and scalable provision of service.

2. Is there an optimum design for an enterprises’ IT architecture for business continuity and disaster recovery?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer as each business will have different tolerances, risk appetite, security requirements and recovery objectives. However there are some general principles of best practice that organisations can benefit from, for example a Cloud-based backup and archive of critical data is now commonly used in support of a disaster recovery strategy. Cloud-based software solutions give greater flexibility to enable support for employees to work remotely as just one example.

3. Cloud based systems are more cost effective for business continuity, but what risks do they come with?

There are now so many options to select from. It is important for businesses to go through a rigorous review and selection process, carefully considering in particular the locations of data centres, provisions for information security and terms and conditions. This process takes time and resource, but ensures compliance with relevant legislation and minimises the risk of decision-making in an expanding and highly-competitive cloud services market.

4. What are the biggest barriers to entry for an organisation when looking at adopting a cloud-based business continuity plan?

The single biggest barrier to many organisations can often be the investment they have made in legacy systems. Many businesses have in-house architecture and systems that have previously given the control and security required, but a change to Cloud-based solutions presents different risks and challenges and often a different ongoing cost model for the business. However, even if you are not switching everything to Cloud immediately, there are many hybrid solutions that allow businesses to amortise their existing data centre investments, whilst transitioning to and benefitting from the flexibility afforded by cloud-based services and infrastructure.