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Business continuity in the public sector

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While business continuity (BC) is mission-critical for any business, it is in the public sector where ensuring the continuation of services to citizens and the proper functioning of the country take on a new level of importance, writes Claude Schuck, regional manager: Africa at Veeam.
In recent times, the focus around technology has shifted to a more agile environment resulting in the growing acceptance of two-speed IT deployments. In the business continuity context, this approach translates to ensuring the essential systems are always on and working while at the same time implementing new dynamic approaches to meet the needs of the citizens.
The 2016 Veeam Availability Report shows that 84% of senior IT decision makers have identified a gap between the level of availability they receive from legacy backup solutions to what end users demand. This presents decision-makers with a significant challenge, especially in the public sector.
Government departments need a way to support aggressive recovery time and recovery point objectives. Being always-on means that there has to be a continuation of services irrespective the crisis that occurs. Providing citizens with access to these are essential as is maintaining the processes which keep the country functioning.
Of course, the need for business continuity goes beyond the mission-critical.
Government has to be able to meet tighter backup windows in order to have more response and cost-efficient archives for improved storage management. Similar to a large organisation, the public sector has to have enterprise-class performance and responsiveness across wide geographic areas. This translates to higher levels of uptime and availability.
Government therefore has to take a leadership role and implement the necessary measures to limit the probability of disruptive events and the impact of these on service operations.
Given the regulatory and compliance measures that have been put in place, the public sector is limited in terms of the approach it can take. Embracing a completely cloud-based solution is not possible as there are requirements to maintain data sovereignty. Legal matters aside, there is still concern about the use of legacy solutions, such as tape drives, around backup and recovery.
These often require finding the right tape getting it to the right device and then doing the restore. In an always-on world, this does not endear itself to effective business continuity. Using a more virtualised solution means that data is accessible from anywhere, at any time, using any device.
A concern around more modern and innovative business continuity solutions is price. Wherever possible, government needs to match budget with requirements. So instead of viewing the price of the solution it should rather consider the cost of the data lost. Prioritising data for business continuity is a vital step and will help keep costs manageable. After all, not every single file and process has to be recoverable in 15 minutes of going down.
The Veeam Availability Report found that the average cost of downtime globally for mission-critical applications is almost $80 000 per hour. The average per hour cost of data loss resulting from downtime for a mission-critical application is just under $90,000. Loss of customer confidence (68%), damage to the organisation’s brand (62%) and loss of employee confidence (51%) were the top three ‘non-financial’ results of poor availability cited.
The transition to a seamless business continuity experience might not be the easiest to do, especially given some of the constraints faced in the public sector. However, the impact of continuity to the country makes it critically important to do well.