The Business Continuity Emergency

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As COP27 kicks off in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, the subject of rising climate disasters is back on the agenda. 30 years on from the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, prominent politicians once again come together to discuss their plans for countering and responding to a range of climate disasters. But it is also important that businesses consider the impact that these events may have on their own day-to-day operations and invest in their own disaster recovery.

In the past year alone, we have all seen a clear, dramatic step change in global climate conditions, with a significant increase in the incidence and severity of extreme weather events resulting in flooding, hurricanes and heatwaves across the globe. The UK and Europe experienced the hottest summers on record during the past three years. This year’s extreme, record-breaking heatwave in July took the UK climate beyond 40 degrees Celsius, and posed serious threats to UK infrastructure. Even as recently as October, unseasonably warm weather (up to 20 degrees across Europe) was yet another reminder of our changing environment.

This ongoing and accelerating trend is now sadly locked into the Earth’s system for decades to come. In Western Europe, heatwaves are increasing in frequency, at about three times faster, and in intensity, four times faster, than in other midlatitude regions according to a recent study. This is having a knock-on impact for business, as evidenced by July’s West London data centre outages for Google and Oracle Cloud and heatwave related IT issues for NHS Trusts. The need for C-suites to consider climate-related events as a serious risk to business continuity can no longer be seen as a problem of the future.

The Cost of Inaction

For organisations globally, climate related extreme weather events now pose a serious threat to business continuity, one that is significant and growing. Be it a blackout, or even the complete destruction of IT infrastructure, the costs of redundancy of power and systems cannot be underestimated.

In a recent survey, 91% of organisations associated a single hour of downtime to more than £300,000 in damages — an estimation that only continues to rise, and which spells out not just revenue loss but business closure for the vast majority. A loss of data for ten days has driven many otherwise robust businesses to bankruptcy in recent years. Therefore, the predictions of a reasonable worst-case scenario potentially resulting in a UK wide four-day blackout this winter is a serious threat not only to business continuity, but the entire organisation.

Today, to sidestep the devastating impact of data loss and protect your critical applications from unplanned downtime, having a disaster recovery plan in place is a fundamental necessity that could mean the difference between survival or closure. Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) enables organisations to replicate all IT workloads and applications from public or private clouds, for both virtual and physical environments at a highly effective price point.

It takes just one incident to cripple an organisation. So, a tested business continuity plan is a vital step to ensuring the long-term viability for your business.

Future Proofing with Disaster Recovery 

Disaster recovery is a critical area of IT infrastructure security, which seeks to cover critical applications and data from the impact of unpredictable events like hardware failure, cybercrime, and natural disasters. It enables businesses to maintain data and vital functions when such incidents occur.

It is important to sync disaster recovery plans to your business’ requirements. In protecting mission-critical functions, IT leaders must assess and factor in how much data could be lost, as well as the eventual impact and cost to both the business and clients. It includes replicating IT workloads and applications for both physical and virtual environments. Many businesses can choose to begin the process by looking at the planning and implementation practices in the cloud and enlisting a cloud service provider from the outset.

Preparing your Business for Disaster Events – Choosing the Right Partner

From design through to implementation, businesses should look for an experienced disaster recovery partner that provides an end-to-end service, capabilities and support and, as priority, a flexible and individual solution to meet the specific recovery requirements of the business.

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) enables organisations to replicate all IT workloads and applications from public or private clouds, for both virtual and physical environments. Built-in security and data protection can be customised according to business requirements and the specific geographical conditions. Legacy systems must also be factored in, with partners that can provide guidance on whether it is preferable to relocate to the cloud, or to collocate. The right partner will look to model your environment, to ensure application performance requirements are met before DRaaS deployment.

Simple cloud management that provides detailed security, compliance performance updates and billing information is also critical. Therefore, organisations should look for a platform that provides unified management, control and visibility across all applications and resources. Additionally, a platform that can deliver seamless integration and experience across software solutions like Veeam and VMware, as well as comprehensive security and, critically, compliance directly into your console.

Finally, a simplified recovery strategy and capability, that enables the business to restore from backups and replicate data to another secure cloud, is essential. This will enable the organisation to trigger a live ‘failover’ in their environment when disaster hits. Here, a multi-cloud strategy and a provider that optimises network flexibility is the best option, as it will enable continued network access for end users during a failover event or network downtime. Beyond this, multi-layered security that can be purpose-selected across the recovery environment and can be directly integrated into your console for ease of use and visibility, will enable authentication, identification of vulnerabilities, encryption and security threats, and easy on-demand reporting.

Incidents Can Happen Any Time – Day or Night 

A final point to consider when selecting a disaster recovery partner is whether they provide robust around-the-clock support engineers. From on-boarding to ongoing operations and, should the worst happen, failover, it is essential to have access to an experienced team who can guide you every step of the way, resolving issues quickly and with minimum impact to business.

The implications of climate change are being felt across the globe, the events of this year alone should be evidence enough to give both countries and organisations the impetus to act now. Organisations can no longer rely on governments for climate reassurance. With predictions suggesting the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events will continue to rise, they must consider climate related events as a serious threat to business continuity, and implement necessary procedures to prevent downtime.