A rose is a rose is a rose—or, in other words, a thing is what it is. This is something worth remembering when looking at your disaster recovery and business continuity management plans. Too many companies mistakenly think that having a high availability solution in place means their disaster recovery issues are finalised.

To understand the issues, let’s start with a definition of high availability. It’s essentially a solution that provides an alternate but identical infrastructure on which the production environment can run in the event that the usual infrastructure goes down. It’s a way of guaranteeing that the system meets certain agreed performance criteria. You’ve heard people talking about “four nines availability”—or 99.99 percent.

This alternate infrastructure used often to be located in the company’s own data centre. However, the advent of the cloud has made it much easier (and often cheaper) for companies to put in place a high-availability solution that makes use of a cloud provider’s virtually unlimited infrastructure on a pay-as-you-go basis. Because the cloud’s virtual infrastructure is located offsite, many companies believe that their cloud-based high availability in fact constitutes a disaster-recovery or business-continuity solution.

Wrong. If one thinks about what business continuity is, it’s easy to see why. Business continuity aims much more widely: it looks at all the risks the company faces, and puts contingencies in place. Business continuity may include high availability, but it also has to consider all the other things needed to keep the business as a whole operating. Other components business continuity includes but is not limited to, work-area recovery (somewhere to put your staff if the building is flooded or they can’t get to work because of industrial action) and data backup as well as a complete technology infrastructure including telephony, PCs and servers.

Other angles that business continuity covers include supply chain risk—what happens if the Japanese company that makes that vital component can’t supply?—and the risk that your data and voice connectivity is lost. And what happens if you call centre can’t operate for whatever reason? Most companies rely on their call centres call centre for liaising with both customers and business partners—without it, they are out of business.

High availability is a must, and the cloud can be a lifesaver in bringing it within reach. Just don’t confuse it with business continuity or you’ll live to regret it!

[author] [author_info]Author : Al De Brito, Senior Systems and Network Administrator, ContinuitySA[/author_info] [/author]

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