Assessing business continuity in an automated world

  • Don’t assume what you’re doing now will always work. Periodically reassess your business continuity plans.

  • Every risk can’t be addressed at the same level, so prioritize.

  • Be sure to protect your entire IT environment, including networking and collaboration tools.

As I said in my previous blog entry, 6 key issues that keep CIOs up at night,” bad things can happen to good people. IT systems are critical to the successful operation of many business processes, and with the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, and predictive analytics, the systems we support are becoming even more critical to revenue generation and cost control.

Given this, your IT staff is under pressure to keep the systems running, no matter what. These insomnia-producing challenges can be managed through planning, simulation, and testing to help ensure business continuity.

A business continuity/disaster recovery plan should address:

  • Resilience
  • Recovery
  • Contingency
  • Security

Rethink your continuity plan

If your company already has a business continuity plan, it should be reassessed for a world of high levels of automation, contracting for services, and reduced latency. The very definitions of terms such as “work location,” “service,” and “support” are changing, but it is easy to overlook that and assume what we’ve always done still works. But let’s face facts: What we’ve always done may no longer be sufficient. Diverse perspectives are needed for looking anew at what can happen.

Find your pain points

Business continuity falls largely within the sphere of risk management, with some crossover into related fields such as governance, information security, and compliance, all of which are at the core of an enterprise architecture.

Business impact analysis is the generally accepted risk-management term for the process of determining the relative importance, or criticality, of those elements; criticality, in turn, drives priorities, planning, preparations, and other business continuity management activities. Every issue cannot be addressed at the same level, and business impact analysis can help concentrate your efforts on the areas of greatest concern.

In today’s environment, business impact analysis is becoming technical, and the interconnection across the ecosystem more complex. For example, we have seen situations in which an entire financial institution was placed at risk when its automated trading responded in an unforeseen fashion or its governance broke down. Addressing concerns like these will become ever more common across industries.

Guard your complete environment

Mission-critical IT systems require mission-critical protection, no matter the platform or the supplier that operates the underlying hardware. It is not just the systems, but the cloud services, network connections, and the design of integrated applications that are important.

No one cares if the lights are flashing and the disks are spinning if the end-to-end transactions cannot take place.

Modern networking and collaboration techniques will be critical components of your disaster recovery/business continuity plan, since they allow greater resiliency and flexibility, as well as more effective and timely communications.

And remember: As Alan Lakein said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

Learn how AT&T Network Security Services can support your business continuity plan with tools and resources that help protect your IT environment.


Charlie Bess is an independent IT consultant. He is the author of this blog and all opinions are his own. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.


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