Business continuity is a business’s level of readiness to maintain critical functions after an emergency or disruption. These events can include security breaches, natural disasters, power outages, equipment failure or a key employee’s sudden departure.
Business continuity requires evaluating the importance of different business functions in a business impact analysis, and then creating a plan for maintaining at least the most critical elements despite a disturbance. The business continuity plan usually involves three considerations: resiliency, recovery and contingency.
Resiliency means the business has created systems with built-in preparation for certain disasters or disruptions. Built-in readiness can include redundancy through failover and spare capacity.
If important business capabilities do fail, quick recovery times to bring systems back up is crucial. Restore from backup takes too long now with large data sets, so failover to a remote datacenter is the recommended solution. The plan for recovery needs to include roles and responsibilities, as well as which systems need to be recovered in which order.
When the resiliency and recovery plans fail, or when an unforeseen event occurs, a contingency plan can act as a last resort. It means the business has a practiced strategy in place for last-resort needs, such as asking third-party vendors for help and providing emergency office space or remote options.
There are many international standards and policies to guide the development of disaster recovery and business continuity plans.