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Building an Enterprise Business Continuity Plan: What You Need to Know


Putting key parts of your business in the cloud is smart, but be sure an outage won't take you down as well. Cloud redundancy is key.

Moving a wide range of your enterprise IT applications and data to the cloud can be liberating and add huge efficiency and agility for businesses, but it doesn't come without risks. That's why it's critical to have a clearly-developed business continuity plan which uses cloud services from multiple providers in widely-spaced locations so you can keep your enterprise running, even if one provider suffers an outage.

When you are running important business applications in the cloud, ensuring they will keep running somewhere else if there is a problem with a hosted cloud service provider, whether it is AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, VMware or others, is your one of your most important responsibilities as you create your cloud infrastructure.

To accomplish this mission-critical task, your enterprise needs to plan out an effective strategy, ensure that affected data and applications can be started up at a moment's notice if needed, and that all the related procedures are mapped out, planned and occasionally practiced to be sure of their readiness to work as designed when needed.

Companies have a wide range of options in selecting their public, private and hybrid cloud providers as they peruse, plan and configure their multi-cloud approach for the ultimate in systems redundancy.

Asking all the questions you will have when talking with cloud providers about developing a multi-cloud approach is very important, as well as ensuring that the systems from the cloud vendors will be able to work together for easy and reliable transitions should an outage occur with one of them. This means also asking lots of questions to be sure their security tools and other systems will work seamlessly with those of other cloud vendors you might choose for your redundant systems. Also, be sure you test all systems for such failover if needed to be sure they work as anticipated.

Disaster recovery, and application and data redundancy, are ever more important today within IT infrastructures, especially if your systems are outside your data center and you are not able to touch it or repair it in an emergency if an outage should occur.

A key to making your redundancy plan work well is to create systems that will automatically switch from your primary cloud to a backup when the primary cloud becomes unavailable, according to a recent report by SearchCloudComputing. That can be done by redirecting a network connection to switch users from one cloud to another or by using third-party software to automatically make the switch to a secondary cloud in the event of an outage, the story continues.

In addition, be sure you make decisions on how long an outage by your prime cloud provider can be tolerated before you will switch to a backup cloud to get your operations back under way. That timeframe depends on your company's requirements so carefully evaluate your needs to make these decisions.

And don't forget the obvious – regular and complete data backups are also key because if a cloud outage occurs and the data isn't available, the problems have only just begun for an enterprise.

In the world of cloud redundancy, like in the field of IT disaster recovery, always work to prepare for the unexpected. The cloud will sometimes, even if infrequently, fail you. Parts of your IT systems will likely fail at some point.

Be sure to have processes in place to monitor your IT systems so you know ahead of time when problems are beginning to crop up. Be careful and be vigilant.

And as crazy as it might sound, also consider planning redundancy for your redundant systems. That means having a main cloud provider and a backup provider, while also possibly bringing in another cloud backup service as another backup for your critical infrastructure.

All of this goes along with the important advice above – expect the unexpected.

Oh, and there's one last bit of advice as you review, update and deploy your cloud redundancy strategy – learn from others who have done these things to improve their cloud disaster survivability.

Talk to other IT pros at conferences, find out how they are handling similar strategies, check out this white paper and gather all the information you can find to use it for your enterprise's benefit. Most IT problems aren't unique. Other enterprises are likely experiencing similar issues. Take advantage of their strategies to enable a successful cloud redundancy program inside your company and use it to your advantage.

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