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4 critical trends in IT business continuity

Bob Violino | April 3, 2012
In IT, failure is not an option. Not surprisingly, organizations have made it a high priority to develop and implement reliable business continuity plans to ensure that IT services are always available to internal users and outside customers.

The consumption of resources (for example, CPU, memory, storage, bandwidth) for these environments are displayed via dashboard, alerting and reporting metrics, and detailed trending such as daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly consumption helps with planning, determining and provisioning the capacity needed for business continuity and disaster recovery purposes.

Using the cloud management tool Walz can set up defined policies for scaling out additional applications, and this allows it to maintain business continuity through a more automated, on-demand type of provisioning, Falzarano says.

The software also allows Walz to provision to its private cloud or to a service provider's private cloud. For example, if Walz is using 80% of the internal private cloud and suddenly sees a demand for a new application and wants to rapidly spin up development systems, it might choose to provision these development systems to a service provider's private cloud instead of provisioning systems to the remaining 20% on its private cloud, so that it can maintain some growth reservation. The same type of model can also be used for business continuity, Falzarano says.

Imperial Sugar operates a hybrid cloud environment, with about 95% of its applications running on a private cloud in its data center and the remainder accessed via a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. The private cloud is provided by a network service provider and the SaaS software is delivered by software vendors on a hosted basis, Muller says.

Because the cloud environment is maintained by service providers and software vendors, the onus falls on them to ensure continuity, and that can be a benefit as well as a risk, Muller says.

"When I have a third party hosting the environment for me I look to them as part of the service-level agreement to have the resources--the people and hardware and infrastructure in place--so that they can guarantee me if the hardware has a problem at one location they've got another location that will bring up my apps in a manner that is seamless to our internal users," Muller says. "That's sort of their problem, as long as I've got a strong service-level agreement in place with them."

On the other hand, even with a service-level agreement holding the service provider responsible there are no guarantees that service will not at some point be interrupted, Muller says.

Not everyone sees cloud computing as influencing business continuity. "As of today, I don't see a huge impact," Dines says. "However, I do expect this to become a significant complicating factor in the future. As more organizations outsource more services to the cloud, it will become the job of the business continuity manager to audit the recovery plans of many different suppliers."


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