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The world is an unpredictable place, and businesses today can’t afford surprises at all. Surprises come in all shapes and sizes, and it was clear during Hurricane Sandy that many businesses (including those big data centers!) weren’t quite ready for a big event. Many organizations consider their infrastructure in a Disaster Recovery plan, but have they even considered how their business will continue to function? That’s Business Continuity.

When Hurricane Sandy hit, not only did infrastructure get hit, so did the people. There was no way to get to work, no way to get online for many, and their offices were completely inaccessible. Many were forced to work from home, since their organizations hadn’t considered the possibility of staff actually not being able to get to the primary headquarters, and even then, unable to access everything they need.

Businesses were scrambling to get back online with their disaster recovery plans, but if they’d planned better, and invested the time they would have been able to continue working despite the challenges of the weather.

Many choose to put their disaster recovery plan into motion without actually checking whether or not it works, or considering the extremes. Not only should you be considering how the front facing web services will keep going, but will your staff still be able to work on other systems? To get the payroll done, or respond to customer queries? Where will they be able to go if their home is damaged or they can’t work from there? Planning should be done now to ensure the business can keep functioning straight away, not to be still recovering weeks after an event.

If those are actually covered, has the business run a full-scale test of the procedures? Business Continuity isn’t really complete without ensuring that the replicated systems you’re accessing are actually up to date, the data is good and they are fast enough to work (especially if they’re on the other side of the country to ensure they stay up) like you would on any other day.It might have a high up front monetary cost to get all of your staff to work in “disaster” mode for a day, but it’ll be worth it down the track when a real disaster hits.

Many businesses are aware of the implications of a disaster for them, but turn a blind eye to how it would actually affect their operations. Today, in the industry it’s easier than ever to recover from a big event. With virtualization and co-location, employees can work in their desktop environment from their house. All they need is a network connection and a computer.

Virtualization allows colocation across the country, and gives businesses the option to scale as they grow. If needs grow in their primary datacentre, the environment grows on the DR side too. If they exceed that of the existing infrastructure, it’s easy enough to just scale seamlessly into the cloud (VMware SRM is worth checking out) for a small amount of money.

There are plenty of excuses and reasons why companies don’t adopt a Business Continuity plan, but if your business can’t afford to lose a day, then money shouldn’t be a barrier. There’s a solution out there for any budget, it just requires a plan.