How Virtualization is Changing Business Continuity - Executive Viewpoint 2013 Prediction: Neverfail

Martin Mackay (Profile)
Tuesday, January 15th 2013

Although virtualization and the cloud have created unprecedented flexibility and datacenter efficiency, business continuity planning and execution have come under significant pressure. As a result, we’ve seen customers begin to implement more structured business continuity lifecycle management practices, focused on connecting the organization’s business requirements with IT operations and infrastructure.

What’s driving this is clear. All businesses now depend on IT to keep the business running, and the events of the past several years make it clear that it’s no longer a matter of if, but when an outage will affect IT operations. The risk of major outages like floods, storms or power outages has increased, but IT also needs to protect the business against smaller-scale outages – application or infrastructure outages that can disrupt business productivity.

The increased risk of outages, combined with virtualization, 7x24 business operations and rapid growth in data are coming together to create a perfect storm for IT departments trying to manage the availability of critical applications as budgets get tighter. Our customers, channel and technology partners tell us there are several trends that put additional pressure on Disaster Recovery (DR) operations:

  • Growing threats to availability. Storms, floods and power outages are increasingly affecting datacenter operations. IT needs to be more prepared than ever to keep the business up and running.
  • Increasing reliance on applications, infrastructure and data for day-to-day operations. Almost any outage at either of these datacenter layers can adversely impact the company’s business.
  • This in turn demands ever shorter RPOs (recovery point objectives) and RTOs (recovery time objectives).
  • Disaster recovery is becoming more complex, driven by the demand to keep up with ever changing infrastructure, applications and the need to support rapid growth in both structured and unstructured data.

These pressures will continue in 2013. Hurricane Sandy and similar disastrous events over the past year are learning opportunities that can help shed light on the business continuity challenges and help IT understand how to best prepare their organizations to respond. IT will need to:

  • Have complete end-to-end visibility into their complex myriad of IT infrastructure supporting their most critical business services and applications.
  • Evaluate and understand dependencies and business continuity requirements across different business services, application tiers and data.
  • Use this to guide investments in business continuity solutions that can provide the appropriate level of protection.
  • Implement business continuity plans that allow for both smaller outages that affect a single application and large-scale disasters that may disrupt an entire site or region for days.
  • Find efficient mechanisms to keep business continuity plans up-to-date with configuration and related IT infrastructure changes. A plan is only useful if it can be executed successfully.

As the IT team winds down 2012 projects and begins planning for next year, IT business continuity is likely to rise to the top of the list.