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How disaster recovery savings can pay for business continuity planning

Experts identify five areas for cost savings that can fund your business continuity plan efforts.

When asked to name the toughest ongoing challenge in business continuity (BC) planning, the majority of midsized organizations say it is inadequate funding. Given that financial hurdle, one strategy for implementing a business continuity program is using savings from your disaster recovery preparations to help BC pay for itself. Here are five elements that can save your organization money:

1. Server consolidation: Fewer systems mean that you will have less to recover in an emergency. "If you can consolidate your systems into a more fault-tolerant configuration, you have reduced your risk footprint dramatically," said Jim Copenhaver, a certified business continuity professional at Key Results Management Inc. in Atlanta. Consolidation saves on operational overhead, including personnel, redundant software licenses and patch management. HVAC, power consumption and network capacity costs also shrink.

2. A technical refresh: Older systems and tape drives incur maintenance costs that never decline. By performing a technical refresh you can usually eliminate maintenance costs for three years. New equipment is less prone to catastrophic failure and reduces the chance of extended unplanned downtime, Copenhaver said. A good business case will show upper management that a capital expenditure spread out over three years will be revenue-neutral or even represent a savings.

3. A layered recovery architecture, rather than a one-size-fits-all data backup and recovery strategy. Some backup processes, such as synchronous replication, are very sophisticated and expensive. They assure both minimal data loss and the fastest recovery time, but not all business systems deserve that kind of treatment. Email archives don't have to be updated every 10 seconds nor come back lickety-split. Gartner Inc. analyst Dave Russell advises that you design a layered recovery architecture based on the mission criticality of each business system. Layered recovery architectures generally consist of three to five levels:

  • Real-time replication. Russell says it's important to note that this layer is sometimes broken into two tiers -- one for synchronous replication and one for asynchronous replication.
  • Snapshot-based replication, or point-in-time replicas.
  • Disk-based backup.
  • Tape-based backup.

By using less costly backup and recovery for lower-tiered business systems, you'll see substantial savings.

4. A negotiation with business application and business process owners on risks and costs. It is important for you and the business owners to evaluate the recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO) for different systems for your disaster recovery plan, Russell said. Be prepared to negotiate with business process and applications owners because there are tradeoffs between risks and costs. In some cases, business owners may accept more risk for lower cost (which can mean slower recovery).

5. Competitive friction. Gartner believes multiple vendors will soon offer layered recovery and unified management BC solutions. Now is the time to send out requests for proposals and review the DR and BC products you are running. Gartner recommends that you look for opportunities to leverage the competitive market, including switching to a new vendor to obtain a better deal.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Linda Tucci, Senior News Writer.

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