The seminar on ‘Affordable Business Continuity’ was attended by a mixed group of firms; multinationals, financial institutions, legal firms, public sector organisations, and SME’s. Each had different business continuity requirements yet budget and affordability were high on the agenda. Some of the firms were strictly regulated by the FSA, where disaster recovery is essential and poor practice can lead to hefty fines. There were other unregulated companies present who were still backing up on tape. Despite their differing requirements, most delegates agreed that senior management was taking a serious interest in business continuity and were allowing funding in this area. In a similar Business Continuity meeting hosted by Frontier Technology and Microsoft in June, delegates felt the reverse, that business buy-in and funding were the biggest challenges to Business Continuity. Even though most of the firms had a budget for disaster recovery all agreed that with the financial climate still being rocky, spending was limited.
Making Business Continuity Affordable Through Virtualisation
Julian Datta, Channel Development Manager, Virtualisation & Management, Microsoft UK spoke in-depth about enabling business continuity through virtualisation. Microsoft solutions are certainly a good option for firms with tight budgets and business continuity requirements. 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, allowing organisations to start their virtualisation journey even when budgets are low. Datta explained that by adding-on Microsoft System Centre firms can proactively manage their business continuity. System Centre solutions capture and aggregate knowledge about the infrastructure, policies, processes, and best practices so that you can optimise IT structures to reduce costs, improve application availability, and enhance service delivery. Microsoft also offers the ability to encapsulate applications into a virtual container using a product called ‘App-V’. It further enhances your capacity to speed users’ ability to continue working after a disaster. A switch to virtualisation also offers a greener option for firms and reduces electricity costs, as fewer computers need to be powered and less air conditioning is required to cool your server room.
Charlotte Cooper, Cloud & SPLA CPM from Vision Solutions explained how Hyper-V can be combined with Double-Take Software to provide real-time replication and failover for virtual machine environments. “The solution continuously captures changes as they happen and replicates those changes to one or more servers at any location, locally or globally. It is cost-effective and truly safeguards your firm” she explained.
Business Continuity Challenges: Budget, Limited Resources, Staffing
Some of the smaller firms commented that their main challenges to business continuity are limited resources and staffing. Additionally, they had concerns about the investment required to set up a data centre themselves. Gareth Jones, Business Development Manager from Frontier Technology recommended using cloud computing “Outsourcing business continuity is an excellent solution for firms who have limited resources, funding, and time. Frontier Continuity Service is a hosted business continuity solution that 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.”
Delegates then discussed their individual business continuity requirements, according to their size, regulatory and security requirements, and current infrastructure. It was concluded that there is no ‘one size fits all attitude’ when it comes to business continuity planning and solutions. Firms need to look at their own situation, appetite for risk, and budget.
Edwin Wong, Managing Director, Frontier Technology concluded “We have never had two clients alike, it is important to be flexible and tailor services according to each individual’s requirements. Frontier Continuity Service is unique because it is a managed service yet it is also flexible and can be tailored to our clients’ specifications. It adheres to compliance policies and is accredited by the BS25999 specification”
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