At any level, like other IT system processes, BC must be conceived and planned long before it goes into live production. It is generally those early planning steps that determine success or failure of such a system.
In his book, "Are We Willing to Take That Risk: 10 Questions Every Executive Should Ask about Business Continuity" (iUniverse, 2008), BC expert Croy lists a series of tough but important questions that must be faced before any kind of BC strategy is deployed.
What is the worst that can happen? How prepared are we? Where is the business vulnerable? How do we know our plans will work? What about our people? How do we determine our risk tolerance? How can we leverage our technology? Are we willing to take that risk?
"At the end of the day, this is not about infrastructure technology; it's about the business," Croy told eWEEK. "Business executives need to focus on this in realistic terms first. The 10 questions I pose in the book often don't get asked. You've got to start there."
It used to be that, in the old days, that an enterprise had one big machine, in one room, that when you recovered something, it was just that big machine, Croy said. "It was one application, one process, one function. Now, we've got multiple processes that have to be restored in the correct order, or nothing will work well."
Specialized BC software is the only way to handle this complicated workflow.
How to Exist During Recovery
Business continuity doesn't simply mean that a process restarts and continues to operate following a disruption. CTO Kelly Lipp of data protection provider STORServer told eWEEK he believes the biggest business continuity problem facing enterprises is that while many have thought about how to recover, not enough time has been spent on how to exist during the recovery period, which sometimes can be hours.
"Not all recoveries happen quickly," Lipp told eWEEK. "Developing contingencies and an 'exist-without plan' will help eliminate the impact of a disaster and is where the most time needs to be spent."
Imagining various possible outages is the best way to start this process, Lipp said. Using the loss of e-mail as one scenario, Lipp said that if e-mail is the key communications method for an organization -- and it is for most -- one can expect big problems fairly soon. It's the nature of the business.
"If you have a good BC plan, you've thought through how you will communicate if e-mail is unavailable," Lipp said. "Your plan might have time triggers to help you determine which alternative you will employ. Based on information from the recovery team, you can begin to implement your alternatives."