Communication and funding are the biggest issues and challenges to Business Continuity

Microsoft, Frontier Technology and Double-Take Software recently held a round table seminar focused on Business Continuity Issues and Challenges. The aim of the meeting was to assess firms’ pressing business continuity issues, on both an ongoing basis but also in the light of the recent recession and coalition budget cuts.

The seminar was attended by a mixture of legal, financial, media and public sector organisations.  All of the delegates were senior managers from IT, regulatory and business continuity backgrounds. Despite their differing disciplines, all agreed that their biggest business continuity issues were communication and getting buy-in and funding from the business. Business Continuity has no instant return on investment and is extremely difficult to measure which means that it is often pushed into the background in favour of fee-earning activities.

Frank Fischer from Frontier Technology provided the following advice: “Firms need to start looking at business continuity as an insurance policy. We insure our homes and cars without a second thought; it seems crazy not to insure our businesses.”

Delegates agreed that getting the correct technology in place was the easy part; communicating with staff members on how to use IT in the face of a business disaster is much more difficult.  In most firms there is a shortfall between management’s expectations and what IT has provisioned.

Maria João Freitas, Business Continuity Analyst, ITV, emphasised the importance of implementing business continuity management. She felt that the BS 25999 guidelines provide vital advice when looking at the business as a whole and making sure that the roles, responsibilities and strategies are clear.

Delegates generally felt that the guidelines helped with senior management take-up, giving them something tangible to work towards. However, even in firms where business continuity is high on the agenda, spending is still limited.

Microsoft solutions are certainly a good answer for firms with tight budgets and business continuity requirements. Julian Datta from Microsoft commented: “Virtualisation is a fantastic enabler for business continuity. A virtual machine is effectively a collection of files, and thus, opens up new opportunities around migrations, upgrades, backups, and disaster recovery.  Microsoft’s Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 is a free download, enabling organisations to start their virtualisation journey even when budgets are low.”

Datta and Michael Hoskins from Double-Take Software proceeded to showcase the benefits of combining Microsoft Hyper-V and Double-Take technology.  “It provides real-time replication and failover for virtual machine environments. The solution is cost-effective and truly safeguards your firm,” commented Hoskins.

Cloud computing to outsource business continuity provides another excellent solution for firms who have limited resources, funding and time.  Frank Fischer continued: “Frontier Continuity Service is a hosted business continuity solution which uses private cloud technology to securely connect your network to our data centres. With no capital investment required it is affordable regardless of your size or industry sector.”

With effective disaster recovery solutions in the market, it looks as if more training and education is required to ensure that staff take more interest in business continuity and consider it as an important part of their agenda. Frontier Technology provides training and consultancy services for firms who are looking to maximise their business continuity practises and are looking for senior management buy-in.