Leveraging cloud computing to deliver business continuity

When businesses in the hurricane belt think about disaster recovery (DR), it is normally in the run up to hurricane season, even though in reality a significant proportion of disasters are not related to hurricanes and many are wholly preventable. Power outages, IT failures, human error and floods or fires in the data center or computer room are much more common for the majority of clients. All of these risks can be mitigated through the adoption of an effective business continuity plan, in which the disaster recovery plan and robust IT infrastructure both play important roles. 

The Business Continuity Institute define business continuity planning as “the process of developing prior arrangements and procedures that enable an organization to respond to an event in such a manner that critical business functions can continue within planned levels of disruption. The end result of the planning process is the business continuity plan.” The initial step in this plan is to define the amount of disruption and downtime which your business is willing to accept and the financial impact of any disruption to your business. 

According to a recent survey from the Ponemon Institute, the average cost of downtime for a business is US$7,908 per minute, which is US$474,000 per hour. Though there is an obvious revenue loss associated with downtime, there are several factors which are considered as impacts to the cost of downtime: 

  • Revenue loss 
  • Lost employee productivity 
  • Cost of IT recovery 
  • Projected loss of revenue due to customer loyalty 
  • Projected loss of revenue due to damage to reputation 

Though the cost of downtime will vary widely, it is an important part of the business continuity planning process. Clearly, the cost of downtime should inform your plan and any supporting processes, procedures and infrastructure should be designed to a level appropriate to mitigate risk.  

Though the avoidance of unplanned downtime is a major part of a business continuity plan, it is impossible to create an IT system which is 100 percent available at all times. In 2013, there were major outages at some of the largest global companies; Amazon, Xerox (providing the U.S. food stamp service), Yahoo, Google, NASDAQ, Time Warner, and Microsoft to name but a few. Therefore, consideration must be given to a disaster recovery plan as part of business continuity and you should define the recovery point and recovery time objectives for your business.  

The recovery point objective (RPO) is the target set for the status and availability of data (electronic and paper) at the start of a recovery process. It is a point in time at which data or capacity of a process is in a known, valid state and can safely be restored from. In IT DR terms, it can be seen as the precise time to which data and transactions have to be restored (e.g. close of business, last intra-day backup).  

The recovery time objective (RTO) is the target time for resuming the delivery of a product or service to an acceptable level following its disruption. This might be a resumption of full service or a phased return over a period. 

In IT terms, the shorter the target for recovery point and recovery time, the more complex (and therefore more expensive) the IT infrastructure needs to be. For many businesses, there is a balancing act between the financial penalties of downtime to be weighed against the cost of purchasing, maintaining and managing a highly-available IT system.  

For many businesses in the Cayman Islands, the traditional IT infrastructure scenario is to own their own IT infrastructure with a degree of resilience and a typical disaster recovery plan varies from taking tape-backups of the company data offsite, to replicating their critical data to a second site – often outside of the Cayman Islands due to risks associated with operating in the hurricane belt. 

However, the advent and maturation of cloud computing has led to fundamental changes in the way in which businesses can run their IT environments, which allow simpler and less expensive access to highly-available IT systems and enterprise class disaster recovery solutions. Cloud computing is a technique for sharing computing resources and applications in a highly efficient manner, presenting resources in an easily accessible fashion whilst allowing organisations to improve efficiency and realise more value from the infrastructure. This can be achieved irrespective of an infrastructure’s current implementation, geographic location, or physical packaging. It provides a logical rather than just a physical or virtual view of data, computing power, storage capacity, and other resources. 

The technology underpinning cloud computing covers most areas of IT but more importantly business processes, encompassing strategic solutions from the data center to the desktop and the fast moving mobile space. The benefits available to organizations, which invest in a cloud policy and strategy are diverse and far-reaching. 

Due to the fact that many traditional cloud companies deliver services from the U.S., or other on-shore jurisdictions, in the past many businesses based in the Cayman Islands have not been able to take advantage of cloud solutions as data management, location and residency are of paramount importance. However, these cloud solutions are now available in the Cayman Islands and compete very strongly in terms of sophistication and pricing. 

Earlier in 2014, MCS launched their own cloud offering in partnership with Calligo, the most technically advanced and secure offshore cloud service provider. The MCS cloud is hosted from a managed and secure datacenter right here in the Cayman Islands and provides enterprise-class cloud services and critically, a data residency guarantee. The MCS cloud is built on a highly available infrastructure with no single points of failure or dependence, is 100 percent encrypted and is guaranteed to handle any workload. As the system is built on enterprise-class hardware and software, the MCS cloud provides a level of business continuity which is difficult to attain using traditional on premise IT infrastructure for a fraction of the cost. 

In additional to the benefits to business continuity, the MCS cloud has the ability to provide a disaster recovery solution to any of the other Calligo site throughout the globe providing a full disaster recovery service to another offshore jurisdiction, with the same data residency guarantees. As replicating to a second site within the Calligo network requires the provision of minimal resources on a day-to-day basis and these are increased only when a disaster recovery plan is invoked or tested, the costs involved with this service are a fraction of those associated with a more traditional disaster recovery service.  

 

To see the MCS Cloud in action and how it can help meet your business continuity and disaster recovery objectives contact MCS today on 949-8263 or email info@mcs.ky 

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