Business continuity management in cloud computing
Business organization’s data is one of their most critical and valuable assets and securing it from any harm should be one of the utmost priorities of the organization. Business continuity is the ability of a business organization to be able to effectively manage any loss of critical data.
The loss of critical data of any organization can be due to various reasons, including natural disaster, network disruption, hacking or breach, or simply an error made by its own members. Disaster is inevitable, so whatever the cause may be, a business firm should always be prepared for this kind of situation.
Cloud computing is the provision (online) of on-demand computer system resources by third-party service providers which allow their users to access their services without local installation of these resources. An example of cloud services can be SaaS or software as a service that allows a user to use software applications installed on another data center through a browser over the internet—in simple words, using google apps or dropbox counts as using a SaaS.
In a cloud computing environment, the critical data of an organization is managed by a third party which has its advantages and disadvantages. One advantage that can be gained from cloud services can be the cloud-based business continuity approach.
Cloud-Based Business Continuity:
Cloud-based business continuity allows a user to take benefit from cloud computing by storing their critical data in the data centers of a third party. The third party backs the data up in their remote data centers periodically, and in case of any disaster to the original source of data helps in loading this backed up data in the original data centers. This method can take multiple forms:
Backup as a Service:
BaaS or backup as a service is the simplest form of business continuity and disaster recovery plan. It works on the principle of backing your critical data after regular intervals, so if one data center is hit by natural disaster or any other similar problem, the other one can be loaded in its place. In the cloud computing context, it is even more helpful; for example, if a whole city is flooded, a company backing up its data on remote data centers has more chances for a speedy and effective recovery than a company that has its data locally backed up in the same city.
While BaaS can help in data recovery, it is only effective for libraries or other archive-type data forms. BaaS service providers only provide backup services, and the clients are responsible for using them for data recovery all by themselves. Also, BaaS does not backup software and applications, and their service can only be availed after recovering most of the critical IT infrastructure.
Recovery as a Service:
RaaS or recovery as a service is simple cloud-based business continuity and disaster recovery plan which allows a user to store their critical data on the data centers of a RaaS provider. In case of a natural disaster or any other loss, they can get their data back from these service providers and continue their normal business activities.
Note that the RaaS model of cloud-based business continuity does not save the applications and software on the data center of the service provider, which may lengthen recovery times. Another disadvantage of RaaS is that IT support will be needed for the recovery using RaaS because this model only provides the backing up service. RaaS also does not back up data in real-time, so some loss is expected while employing this model of data recovery. For these reasons, this model is best for businesses that have critical data but do not rely very heavily on IT-related services.
Disaster Recovery as a Service:
DRaaS aka disaster recovery as a service is a better version of RaaS. It works in the same way as RaaS except that it also backs up the software, business applications, and IT infrastructure along with the critical data of the organization allowing for recovery in a small amount of time.
While it is an improvement over RaaS, it still does not provide the necessary IT support for data recovery, leaving some of the work on clients’ shoulders.
Managed Disaster Recovery as a Service:
While the above-mentioned services seem a good option for a business for its cloud-based business continuity management, they still have one major problem. The service providers are only responsible for their backup services; apart from that, it is the client’s responsibility to recover their data by using their service.
MDRaaS takes this situation into consideration and provides the ultimate business continuity plan by taking complete responsibility for the whole process of critical data recovery even before this kind of situation occurs. This allows the client to be totally relaxed considering disaster recovery plans and focus on their own work. MDRaaS model of disaster recovery service is also the fastest and most efficient method of the cloud-based business continuity plan, and it allows the user to continue their normal business activities in the least amount of time.
Choosing the best plan from available options:
Several critical factors need to be considered while choosing an effective cloud-based business continuity plan (BCP). These factors mainly include the time required to set up the working requirement again, the data coverage, which shows what components of your critical data are backed up and what parts are not backed up, the backup routine, which shows the time after which the critical data is backed up and the continuity of the business which estimates the time during which the normal operation of the business will be affected.
The IT department of the business organizations can choose the best data recovery model considering the context of their business activities. A small business that does not heavily rely on IT services may use RaaS, but larger organizations may require faster and more efficient cloud-based recovery systems.