Well-planned clouds can improve continuity efforts


    While network outages are to some extent a natural phenomenon that businesses around the world need to deal with, decision-makers must ensure that operations can be restored as quickly as possible if their organizations are to remain competitive and up to par with industry standards. Fortunately, today's continuity strategies can be augmented with a number of advanced technologies, including hosted PBX systems, cloud services and other solutions that support teleworking capabilities.

    A recent FCW report said the ability to support a remote workforce during a disaster by using cloud computing, bring your own device and other IT endeavors will reduce costs, improve efficiency and strengthen a firm's resiliency. Most of these technologies are relatively new and, as a result, unfamiliar, which invites opportunity for challenges. That said, they also provide a number of unique advantages necessary to compete in today's private sector.

    The cloud and disaster recovery

    In addition to offering the prospect of saving money, cloud services enable companies to improve the availability of mission-critical resources to individuals in and outside the workplace. Because most disasters require employees to conduct operations in alternative locations, having anytime access to crucial assets is a key component for keeping a business focused until it is fully recovered.

    The cloud is also hosted externally, meaning it inherently gives firms an edge over local disruptions, FCW reported. This was one of the reasons why the Energy Department's Idaho National Laboratory (INL) decided to migrate to the cloud.

    "We were able to release storage and capacity that our previous messaging system required for the backup capability," said Denise Stephens, INL's CIO, according to FCW. "I think that is definitely a benefit that comes with cloud solutions. As more and more cloud [services] are implemented, it reduces the footprint of what you need to keep in the way of business continuity capabilities."

    Ensuring continuity strategies work as planned

    FCW said training is an important part of using the cloud and mobile technologies for disaster recovery programs. After all, if employees are not familiar with the services at their disposal, they will not be able to carry out operations in a timely and efficient manner. By teaching individuals how to use an arsenal of new solutions, executives can be sure sales effectiveness is not impaired in the wake of an outage.

    A separate report by Information-Management said enterprises need to formally document a continuity strategy so individuals are aware of policies and risks associated with working after an emergency. Having a hard copy of the recovery plan means individuals that may have been absent during its launch will still be aware of what needs to be done and how tasks are supposed to be carried out.

    Information-Management said testing is also a critical part of ensuring a continuity plan works. If an organization waits until the program is needed before executing a dry run, individuals will likely be overwhelmed by new processes and operations will suffer. Further, failing to implement a test may mean that the system simply does not work, leaving businesses to improvise in the vain attempt to meet customer and employee demand.

    As the cloud continues to evolve and provide decision-makers with new opportunities to enhance disaster recovery strategies and continuity efforts, forward-thinking executives will recognize the need to develop strong plans of action, testing and training. When advanced cloud services are leveraged efficiently, business of all sizes can ensure individuals are able to collaborate and work together to restore operations back to normal.