Business Continuity Planning: The Philosophy and the Science

Mike Allen
July 19, 2013

"Business continuity planning can be almost as much of a consternation to organizations as the disaster that thrusts those plans into action. Unless we’re talking Hollywood summer blockbusters, disasters are no one’s idea of a good time. However, retaining core business operations, like data centers and telecommunications, during and after unforeseen events is crucial to long-term company health. Part of the reason business continuity planning can be so difficult to broach is that management and IT personnel can approach it from very different perspectives.

The philosophy behind business continuity planning often stems from senior management, who ultimately have the final say on what resources, time and personnel are devoted to critical projects. Business leaders’ strategic focuses for disaster recovery solutions will likely be less technical and more based on cost and PR. After all, they’re the face of the corporation when something goes wrong. IT personnel, on the other hand, will tend toward the scientific side of the equation, prioritizing infrastructure investment. Both of these perspectives are valid, and can create contention if the two sides don’t see eye to eye. One way to bridge this potential risk management gap is to separate the idea of ‘risk’ from the idea of ‘management,’ according to business continuity planning expert Geary Sikich. What you’re about to read might seem a little abstract, but stick with it.

“I have always considered unknown unknowns as being unknowable and to be outside the scope of a risk management process,” Sikich wrote. “If we accept that identification is a fundamental part of the risk management process, then it is not logical to expect that the risk management process can handle unknown unknowns. This is one reason for differentiating between risk-related contingencies and management contingencies.”

Move over, Plato. Amidst Sikich’s breakdown of unknown and known factors is a valuable lesson for business continuity and disaster recovery planners. Being able to articulate known risks and develop solutions that can comprehensively address them is a good way to illuminate concerns on both sides of the management/IT divide and enact better policy.

Disaster Recovery in the Data Center
There are many options when it comes to disaster recovery solutions, but the software-defined data centers with colocation hosting might be the best bet for comprehensive service, according to Data Center Knowledge. Software-defined data centers offer virtualized storage, networking and security, which can better withstand a physical disaster and optimize key operations for multi-tenancy environments. This can, in turn, mitigate the damage of a potential virtual snafu. Overall, software-defined networking can make organizations more flexible and scalable, two key attributes when it comes time to fall back on business continuity plans."



    Mike Allen

    "Business continuity planning can be almost as much of a consternation to organizations as the disaster that thrusts those plans into action. Unless we’re talking Hollywood summer blockbusters, disasters are no one’s idea of a good time. However, retaining core business operations, like data centers and telecommunications, during and after ...

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