When Disaster Thunders Through the Cloud

Cloud computing and disaster recovery can make for a stormy marriage. The best intentions — and a robust business continuity plan — may not be enough to save you from an expensive divorce.

Cloud computing — and the cloud-computing business model — is maturing at a rapid pace with new solutions, systems, and a seemingly never-ending conga line of vendors offering compelling reasons (and deals) for why you should move to the cloud, however they define it. For those CFOs who have enterprise risk management burned into their portfolio of accountabilities, it’s important to examine those offers with a gimlet eye.

One of the core value propositions of cloud computing is that your enterprise’s IT disaster recovery (ITDR) plan is taken care of by your cloud provider. However, moving to a public cloud may increase the complexity and costs of your ITDR plan and, in some instances, increase your risk. This is a somewhat controversial position — maybe. But it requires careful thought and assessment — definitely.

Business Continuity and IT Disaster Recovery
It’s important to draw a distinction between a business continuity plan (BCP) and an ITDR plan. Fundamentally, your BCP should cover every aspect of how you would continue to run your business in case of an adverse event such as a natural disaster (say, a tsunami in Japan or a flood in Thailand affecting your supply chain or a manufacturing plant), a pandemic, an infrastructure failure, a global credit crunch, a collapsing euro: you name it. The ITDR, on the other hand, focuses on the resilience and continued availability of your enterprise IT systems. It forms a subset of your enterprise BCP.

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