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Disaster can strike at any moment; and it can be natural or human-triggered. Fire, flood, earthquake, a disgruntled employee: All can cause chaos in your business. And while the term disaster recovery is often used in information management, the fact is if you have to recover, the disaster has already happened. The real question is how to prepare.

This is where having a disaster preparedness plan and access to a private cloud play a vital role. Disaster preparedness should be part of an overarching Information Governance (IG) policy that includes guidelines on secure access, privacy protection, retention, legal discovery, legal hold and back-up and recovery. The latter represents the major portion of disaster preparedness in support of business continuity. Inclusion of private cloud as part of a disaster preparedness plan extends and strengthens the content management ecosystem across the enterprise in support of seamless, uninterrupted business operations.

AIIM Research finds that while respondents recognize Archive/back up as part of an IG policy, recovery is not even on the list. (For some, it may be included in their context of Archive/back up.) This presents an interesting scenario in that if you have backed up your information and have stored it securely, wouldn’t it make sense that recovery of and access to that information should also be part of the policy? If you have it and cannot recover it in times of disaster, what purpose did the back-ups serve?

Plan for It

Disaster preparedness requires organizations to identify vital information – information required to keep the business running – and develop alternative content management practices that ensure that information is readily available should disaster strike. For example, recovery of sales and financial information would take precedence over pending employee applications. Processes to restore the information must be designed along with assignment of roles and responsibilities related to the process and content. People need to be trained in what steps are to be taken, technology to be used, and go-live criteria.  If the back-up files are maintained offsite, who is responsible for acquiring them and bringing them into the system? Who in the business unit is responsible for validating the completeness and integrity of the restored information?

While some organizations turn to virtualization as an approach to disaster recovery, that may not be enough to support the need for uninterupted business continuity. Because it requires people and process to effectively recover content, it may not eliminate disruption. The real preparedness discussion must focus on vital information and business continuity.

Enter the Private Cloud

An alternative would be to establish a content management ecosystem that includes an automated business continuity process based on systems monitoring and content redundancy combined with a seamless failover mechanism. In this scenario, when there is detection of a primary system failure, the failover mechanim is activated and the redundant node takes over seamlessly.

Use of private cloud with on-premise applications managed securely behind the corporate firewall allows you to store your vital information in a private cloud that is accessible anytime from anywhere. If something were to happen to your primary system, the failover mechanism of the private cloud automatically reidects business activity to the next redundant node, allowing business to continue as usual. When the primary system returns to online status, the content is automatically synchronized and brought up to date.

This is particularly beneficial for geographically distributed operations in which data centers are dispersed but remain secure within the corporate firewall.  Using private cloud, disaster preparedness is managed through the creation of redundant information dispersed across several nodes within the firewall. If a node should drop from service, the failover mechanism automatically redirects activity to the next node seamlessly and under your control. As a result, focus can turn to the restoration of the regions damaged physically while the rest of the company functions in a business-as-usual fashion.

Seamless Business Continuity

Disaster preparedness should be an integral part of your overall governance program with emphasis on business continuity not just recovery. Planning and preparation by design minimize disaster impact and recovery times. Use of an integrated private cloud combined with system monitoring capabilities provides the redundancy and failover mechanisms to minimize impact to the user community. Integrated private cloud, managed on-premise securely behind the corporate firewall brings the concept of seamless business continuity closer to reality. Automated synchronization ensures that recovery is not only supported but that the content is up to date.

Bob Larrivee is Director of Custom Research at AIIM. Andrea Chiappe is Director of Innovation and Strategy at Systemware.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]