The best part of BCDR Planning is what you get before the disaster

[originally posted on my ESG blog at]

The best part of BC/DR planning is not being prepared for your eventual disaster — its what you get before hand.

In my earlier post, I talked about the 10 professional practices of Business Continuity Planning.

Practices 2 and 3 include "Risk Evaluation and Control" and "Business Impact Analysis". They are essentially about gathering an understanding of what each of your core business processes are, the IT infrastructure that supports them, and a qualitative and quantitative assessment of what would happen if those operations were impacted. Folks this is a very healthy thing that isn’t done enough in corporations. Too often, companies grow their business processes and the supporting IT functions over time and incrementally — but fail to step back and re-assess where they are.

Some of the quantitative math for a BIA and RA, as well as TCO/ROI, RPO/RTO and metrics are available in a sample chapter from my book and is available as a free download — Chapter 2 of Data Protection for Virtual Data Centers.

When you start BCDR planning, here is what you’ll get:

Along with reassessing where you are, BCP process 4, “Business Continuity Strategies” starts to look at what kinds of mitigating technologies could be applied to resolve the potential IT faults in your environment:

  • Invariably, you will end up putting in replication and failover technologies, where standalone servers used to be.
  • You’ll discover new protection and recovery methods, such as cloud-based backup, that originally seemed unattainable and now appear more cost-effective and reasonable.
  • You’ll almost definitely become much more aware of the business processes that can be improved.
  • And, you’ll discover aspects of your infrastructure that could be consolidated or optimized.

Read those words again — optimized, improved, more cost-effective. Of course, you’ll also be ‘prepared‘ but the lesson is that while BC/DR preparedness may be the cause, business optimization is the effect.

The server and storage virtualization that enables booting up an alternative data center during a crisis will also reduce your hardware, power, cooling and space costs now.

The replicated data and resilient applications that ensures continuous operations of your business during a crisis will also assure productivity during a server-level issue or planned migration — and in many cases, improve performance through load balancing throughout the rest of the day and during peak usage hours.

The conversations that you’ll have with your business stakeholders will not only prepare you to be ensure their service during a crisis, it will also almost definitely create conversations where some of those operational processes and procedures can be optimized now. They will also create new dialogs of understanding between the business stakeholders and their IT counterparts which will yield big benefits of empathy and cooperation.

Some of these BC/DR benefits are covered in Chapter 12 of my book — but hopefully, this gets you thinking about BC/DR planning in a new way. While your preparedness and company survival may be the destination, you’ll be amazed how much that you’ll gain during the journey.

As always, thanks for reading.

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