How Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery are connected
Business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) are naturally – and intentionally – connected. BC covers the plans you have in place to mitigate disruption to business-critical functions. The actions of BC mean that you can continue operating, even in abnormal circumstances. DR is the aspect of BC concerned with maintaining and recovering technology infrastructure. You can read more about this and how the two depend on each other in our Ultimate Guide: The Role IT Plays in DR and BC.
This is the very top line explanation of how business continuity and disaster recovery are connected. However, there are several specific ways that DR and BC are connected. If you’re an IT decision maker or are involved in the business continuity process, it’s really useful to understand these terms – it could spell the difference between a DR plan running seamlessly or falling flat on its face!
The common theme here is that business continuity encompasses everything that needs to happen to ensure ongoing operations following a disaster.
Business continuity and crisis management
Crisis management covers the steps you need to take to handle a crisis – surprising, we know! It comprises a plan and is heavily based on the communication and decision-making components of BC. It places a large emphasis on safety and external interactions (i.e. with the media) and will assign individual staff to roles such as logistics, public relations and emergency operations. It’s less about how you recover from a disaster, more about how it’s handled in the heat of the moment.
Business continuity and emergency management
The key difference here is quite simply put, people. Whereas BC is more concerned with continuity of key business operations, emergency management is dedicated to safeguarding people from harm. As with crisis management, procedures and actions are taken immediately and will likely take priority over anything else.
Business continuity vs service continuity
Think of service continuity as a snapshot of overall disaster recovery. It’s usually “owned” by somebody within the business, whereas the execution of DR is typically the domain of your IT service provider. The purpose of IT service continuity is to ensure that an IT service provider is always able to deliver minimum levels of business continuity related technology services, to reduce operational risk to an acceptable level.
Business continuity vs continuity of operations
These two are easy to get confused. And you guessed it, continuity of operations is not an interchangeable term for business continuity. The difference between continuity of operation (usually termed COOP) and business continuity is largely in the application context.
COOP is favoured by public and government entities and is concerned with ensuring resilience so that essential services may continue in the face of operational challenge. Business continuity is often a private sector term, and more focused on maintaining “service levels” and thus, receiving payment.
Business continuity vs business resilience
The end goal of business continuity is business resilience. Everything that you plan, and all the steps that you take, are ultimately to achieve the flexibility and toughness that’ll keep the wheels turning when faced with disruption or crises. Resilience is more of a proactive matter – examining continuity principles outside of their silos to build a connected response, and protect brand, profits and staff from continuity threats occurring in the first place.
Business continuity vs high availability
Essentially, high availability – and IT term – enables business continuity and is achieved through data centre redundancy. Redundancy refers to a system design where a component is duplicated so that in the event of a component failure, IT equipment and therefore functionality is not impacted. The objective of redundancy is to ensure zero downtime, even when disaster strikes, thus resulting in high availability.
Data centre redundancy commonly refers to either N+1 or 2N redundancy (we promise this isn’t an algebra lesson!). Depending on your business continuity needs and IT infrastructure, one may be more preferable than the other – but it’s 2N that’s considered the complete package.
With “N” referring to the duplicated unit, N+1 will replicate an additional component to support a single failure or required maintenance on a component. Typical standards dictate 1 extra unit for every 4 needed. (For example, if you have 8 units, N+1 replication would deliver 10 units).
Although an N+1 system contains redundant equipment, it is not fully redundant because the system feeds from one or more points rather than 2 separate feeds. 2N however refers to a fully redundant, mirrored system with two independent feeds. This means that should one system fail, the other will accommodate a full load and therefore eliminate downtime and deliver high availability and dependable business continuity.
A strong understanding of the nuances of business continuity and its associated terminology puts you in the best position to build a dependable strategy that works for your business. If this article has got you thinking, take the next step and speak to K3 about how IT can best support your business continuity plan and practices.