Disaster often strikes without warning. On August 2, 2013, a hardware failure on a Utah based data center resulted in more than 5 million websites across the world affected by a server outage. Endurance International Group, the company that operated the data center was a partner to a number of leading web hosting companies like Blue Host, HostGator and HostMonster. So was data lost? No. All the leading web hosting companies store their client data on multiple data centers across the world so that a failure in one or even multiple centers at the same time still keeps customer data safe.
Business Continuity Planning is a critical process for every organization to ensure that their loss in business is kept at a minimum due to server outages or any other form of disasters. According to an article on the ExpertIP blog, a study found that 43% of companies who faced a “major loss” of computer records were immediately put out of business while another 51% shut doors within two years of a major disaster striking.
Given the potential consequences, businesses need to take business continuity and disaster recovery seriously. There are three important elements with respect to business continuity planning (BCP) – resiliency, recovery and contingency. Resiliency ensures that operations continue to run even during outages and during the immediate aftermath of a disaster. Recovery is the process of quickly and effectively bringing failed systems back into operation mode, and contingency is the process of setting up alternate systems that can take the place of the default systems in case the resiliency and recovery process do not work as planned.
With growing awareness about disasters and the consequences they have on business, more and more client businesses are today keen on partnering only with organizations that have robust BCP processes in place. In a way then, BCP is not only a measure of your operational preparedness during times of crisis, but it is also a critical selling point for your business.
There are a number of standards available across the world today that can help you benchmark your BCP preparedness. This includes the ISO 22301:2012, BS 25999, ASIS/BSI BCM.01.2010 and HB 292-2006. By getting certified through these standards, your business can sell the disaster preparedness of your company as a factor to consider for potential clients.
Despite the potential consequences of a disaster, awareness about BCP remains low. One primary reason is that businesses see disasters as a rare occurrence and because the financial implications due to such disasters can often be recovered through insurance, it is not given sufficient thought. However, this line of thought completely misses the point that the impact from such disasters are more on the credibility of the business and the trust that customers have on the business, rather than on the financial blow itself. Consequently, BCP is mainly about ensuring that the trust placed on your business by your customers are not hit.
Has your business got a continuity plan in place? Tell us your strategies in the comments below.