The cloud, the new business continuity challenge

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As cloud services develop, it becomes increasingly important to guarantee business continuity in the event that a company's critical applications fail or fall victim to an incident. Duquesne Group, in partnership with Orange Business Services, performed an analysis based on actual customer deployments in which it explored the very varied nature of companies’ business continuity expectations in the cloud (change the link when the article PRA is online) and the key criteria they use to choose the most suitable solutions for their projects.

Download the analysis carried out by Duquesne Group in partnership with Orange Business Services: The cloud, the new business continuity challenge.

The analysis also presents the new opportunities opening up to companies and the business continuity challenges they will have to meet, as “multi-cloud” environments emerge.

The key international benchmark for business continuity is the ISO 22301 standard. If the resources a company needs in order to operate – in this instance the information system – fall victim to a disaster, then so will its business operations, which might be disrupted or even interrupted.

Continuity in the cloud is crucial and has too often been treated as a second-order issue. However, in 2018, even “hyperscaler” clouds all suffered major service interruptions, with very damaging consequences for their customers. Rare but very-high impact events can happen and be disastrous for a cloud platform. As Duquesne Group notes, it is like a once-in-one-hundred-years flood: the question is not “if” such an incident will occur, but “when.”

In the cloud era, business continuity therefore has a new challenge to meet. Here are three key lessons to learn from this analysis.

1. The cloud: simultaneously a challenge and an opportunity for business continuity

Companies’ “critical” business applications are increasingly being deployed in cloud environments. They can therefore no longer be satisfied with theoretical levels of availability. In the event of a disaster, it is critical that companies can restore their applications in a form and by deadlines that are acceptable to business units. This is the new challenge to which they must rise.

But the cloud is also a business continuity opportunity. A cloud-based backup site benefits from a pooling of resources, which means that companies only have to pay for what they actually use. Another major upside of modern cloud-based continuity solutions is that they make testing easier. Tests can be performed at any time and without disrupting a company's operations. They can target part or all of the information system, allowing companies to better manage the use of the specific (and pay-per-use) computing resources needed.

2. For every need, a suitable business continuity solution

CIOs often face complex choices when it comes to disaster recovery and business continuity planning. They have to take numerous criteria into account.

The most decisive factor is the “criticality” of applications and data to be protected for a company's priority business activities. Based on business requirements, Duquesne Group suggests categorizing business protection solutions by “ascending criticality”: Cold, Warm, Hot, High Availability (HA) and Vital (HA combined with Hot recovery). Each of these categories uses different technologies. For example, Orange Business Services business continuity solutions are constructed with a range of technology partners, including Veeam, Nuabee, Zerto and Microsoft (for the “SQL Server AlwaysOn” HA architecture) to better meet companies’ specific needs.

Two other key criteria are also to be factored in: the solution's ability to facilitate testing, a criterion discussed above, and the support services the customer might need, which will be discussed in the next paragraph.

Other factors might also affect a CIO's decision, such as the existing IT set-up on the customer's site, the cloud-based technical environment, geographical location and the desire not to rely on a single vendor.

3. The major role of support services

Customers’ needs for services to support their selection, deployment and even management of business protection solutions vary according to their size, organizational structure, existing IT set-up and, above all, the skills at their disposal.

For instance, key accounts will more readily opt for simple, off-the-shelf solutions.

On the other hand, lots of companies, especially small and mid-sized businesses, may need more support. Orange Business Services can offer these firms its à la carte range of services covering pre-deployment studies, configuration, testing, updates, switch to active mode, and fallback.

Some customers, with very demanding application continuity requirements, will prefer High Availability (HA) solutions. These HA solutions are particularly popular options in larger-scale application deployment, migration and even development projects.

For this reason, a provider must be in a position to supply various types of solutions in order to fully meet companies’ business continuity needs in the cloud era.

Read in detail the analysis carried out by Duquesne Group in partnership with Orange Business Services: The cloud, the new business continuity challenge.

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Anne-Gaëlle Léger
Anne-Gaëlle Léger

Having worked for more than 10 years on the development and promotion of B2B cloud solutions, I am now Marketing Manager for Business Continuity Solutions and Professional Services for our customers. I aim to make the user experience a key success factor in our customers’ digital transformations.