The next generation of business continuity and disaster recovery will include an increased reliance on the cloud plus convergence of the BC/DR and data backup functions.
“One of the biggest trends in DR today that will continue in the future is reducing the associated cost and capital expense by outsourcing it to providers that specialize in this service and in utilizing the cloud infrastructure,” said Grigoriy Milis, chief technology officer at Richard Fleischman & Associates. “This trend will continue through the next 5 to 10 years. Another trend which will continue is the convergence of the backup data retention and DR functions, and additional development of the BC/DR field.”
“DR today is not just about data replication to some kind of secondary site,” Milis continued. “We expect this trend to continue with technology improving and making this marriage between backup and DR substantially more reliable and cost efficient.”
Given that most of the financial services can’t afford any downtime due to increasing levels of automation and decreasing latency demands, the next generation of BC/DR today is rapidly moving from continuity to resiliency.
“A firm has to have the ability to continue its operation with minimal or absolutely no interruption of service,” said Saro Jahani, chief technology officer at Direct Edge. “In order to get there, firms are eliminating all their single points of failure in their operational path, meaning they’re distributing their critical business processes across multiple geographically diverse sites. That’s pretty much what we are doing. We’ve gone to Chicago in order to make sure that 650 miles away, we have a data center that will not be impacted as easily as having both data centers in Jersey City.”
Firms will achieve resiliency by smartly distributing applications across multiple data centers. “What this really means is that there’s going to come a day when exchanges today maintain one book at one site,” Jahani said. “Direct Edge operates two exchanges. At exchanges, the book, the inventory, whatever you want to call it, those are all basically at the same place. While we have a backup environment and we can practically fire it up any time we want, we don’t have
clients simultaneously connecting to both data centers. Should we get to a point where we can actually have clients to connect to both data centers at the same time, that type of solution would be called a hot-hot solution, active-active solution.”
In that type of situation, the loss of one data center “will be completely transparent to the entire industry,” Jahani said. “It’s really a high availability solution, or so-called smart self-healing technologies. It’s not clear yet how we’re going to get there, but definitely that’s where we’re going.”
It will be up to DR/BC professionals and business leaders to follow ongoing trends in technology and incorporate changes into business continuity planning.
“In the future, there will be more cloud-based solutions, outsourced DR Services (such as IaaS and SaaS) and processed-based business continuity planning,” Chris Burgher, principal, consulting services at SunGard Availability Services Businesses. “Geographic resilience and regulation-driven information security requirements will also be a greater priority for all DR sites.”
Ultimately, it’s about being prepared, being flexible, and keeping all stakeholders well-informed in order to continue to deliver critical business functions and services. From employees, to technology to vendors, each business should asses what is necessary for them to function, and put in place the plans, systems and contracts to deliver critical services in even the most extreme circumstances.
“Employee training and awareness of the need for what is involved in disaster recovery is an important gap that needs to be addressed, especially in smaller businesses,” said Robert Crossler, assistant professor of management and information systems at Mississippi State University. “Also, keeping technologies up to date to perform the BC/DR tasks is a never ending issue that needs to be addressed. With BC/DR you can never rest on what you have done. Staying proactive and evaluating changes that are happening within a company are also a crucial step. If a new program or process is implemented and it is not added to the BC/DR plan, then it likely will not be remembered when disaster strikes.”
Noted Jahani of Direct Edge: “For investment managers, looking out over the next several years, resiliency will mean having the ability to consult with clients anywhere, whether its office, home, or on the road – from any type of device and from any application. Client communication would be available pretty much 24/7 either in the cloud or an alternate site.”
“I’m talking about cloud being a solution for the future,” he said. “From my personal, professional knowledge of where this industry is and the 25 years that I’ve been around, I can definitely testify that within 5 years we will see exchanges operate mostly out of cloud. In other words, to give the clients the ability to use any application with any device and connect to the solution that is really up in the cloud.”