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Essential Business Continuity Terms Your Business Should Know

Skyline Technologies  |  
Feb 26, 2019
A strong business continuity plan is something we all want for our organizations. We get and set our requirements with the business for what this is going to look like, and then we work to build a budget and a design to ensure that we're meeting our business continuity strategy. Unfortunately, often those plans get put on the back burner for many reasons – the biggest being cost. That’s why we’re going to provide information on how a cloud-based strategy for your business continuity planning can be effective in meeting your organization's needs.

Level-setting with definitions

First, let’s set some definitions. Some of these terms you may already know. We just want to make sure we are on the same page before moving forward.

Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs)

The first item when it comes to defining our business continuity plan is our recovery time objectives. The recovery time is how much time it takes for us to bring our systems back online after an outage event or failure event has occurred. Another way of looking at recovery time is essentially from the time that the outage starts to the time we're back online. That's our recovery time.

Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs)

The second item to help us define our business continuity plan is our recovery point objectives. This is the amount of time that we can handle a data loss. We see a lot of companies set their RPO to 15 minutes, a half hour, or one hour. It's essentially how much data we can afford to lose during the outage event. The recovery point defines the point in time we are going to recover from based on when the failure event occurred.

Recovery Types

Cold Site

In a cold site, typically we don't have any running applications. We’re doing storage replication or something built into the virtualization layer. VMware and Hyper-V have their technologies for site recovery. With a cold site, we usually have a higher recovery time because nothing's running in the secondary location. We have to hydrate (bring the servers online using the replicated disks) those virtual machines that are basically just a replicated disk in the secondary site. In a cold site solution, we have a high cost environment with a low cost to value ratio since there is a bunch of hardware that's running idle. We've paid for this hardware, and we're not doing anything with it.

Hot Site

The second recovery type that we have is the hot site. From here, we can choose between active or passive. Another way to define passive would be a warm site. You have probably heard the terminology “active-active” or “active-passive”. It’s typically the same cost. A hot site typically has the same overall cost as a cold site. However, we gain value because, firstly, we will have a lower recovery time since the systems are already running. Secondly, we can have a better recovery point as we're replicating data to that hot site.

8 Types of Interruptions

1. Common Hardware Failure

What type of fault tolerance was designed or built into your primary data center, and are you replicating that fault tolerance in the secondary data center? We often see where we have all this hardware fault tolerance and backup power sources in the primary data center, but we don't have that same setup in the secondary data center. Also, what are the warranties and the replacement policies and schedules? That's something we have to keep in mind when we're planning for a hardware failure interruption.

2. User-based Interruptions

We all have our user-based interruptions caused by that nasty delete key. We have total or partial file deletions or erasures. Then there's also the, “Who hit the power button?”. Maybe we need to power down a server, and (unfortunately) someone powered down the wrong one. Or we have the infamous server-running-under-someone's-desk, and it’s a production system that we weren't aware of due to turnover within IT. Now something got turned off that shouldn't have been.

3. Data Corruption

It's real, it happens, and it sucks. What are our plans around dealing with data corruption?

4. Power Outages

This is a risk for businesses on a single power grid or communications grid. Not a lot of businesses bring in multiple power grids so it's very possible to have dirty power or inconsistent power coming into our data centers. We have to be able to manage those outages accordingly.

5. Overheating

What type of redundancy is built into our AC systems for the data center (if any)?

6. Natural Disasters

Anything that would cause us to have to evacuate the data center or potentially cause harm to the data center in any way.

7. Service Provider Outages

This mostly affects the communications world –telecommunications, networking, data communications.

8. Software Application Failures

Maybe there's a specific application that has gone down, or there are multiple systems or services that are no longer online. What are we doing to handle single-system or multi-system failure?

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