2016 has been a rough year for a variety of reasons, but from a business point of view one persistent issue has been ensuring continuity in the face of unforeseen circumstances.
From major storms to building fires and power failures, plenty of firms across the UK have had to recover from disasters, both natural and manmade, in the past 12 months. And a new report from ITS outlines the 10 most significant incidents which have put business continuity in the spotlight, with the benefits of the cloud as a recovery mechanism highlighted by the results.
Back in January, one of the most disruptive events of the year occurred, with Storm Gertrude resulting in chaotic scenes across northern parts of the UK. High winds moving at speeds of over 100mph not only did damage to buildings, but also resulted in various areas losing power, while transport networks also bore the brunt of its fury.
Many of the other continuity calamities throughout 2016 were caused by storms, including Katie and Angus. Meanwhile, flooding hit businesses and communities in September and earlier in December, according to Cloud Tech.
A data centre in London underwent an extended outage in July after its power systems were taken out of action unexpectedly, leading to plenty of problems for those businesses which relied on it to supply them with IT services.
Report spokesperson, Matt Kingswood, said that it was clear from the results of the study that British firms should do all that they can to plan for the future and plot out any prospective continuity disasters which might strike, no matter how unlikely they might seem when things are going smoothly.
He argued that this is not just about ensuring that an organisation can survive outages and incidents of all kinds, but also addressing the daily inefficiencies which may not appear significant in the short term, but can have real long term implications for revenue streams.
Making use of cloud computing to allow complete continuity of access to servers containing mission-critical apps and data can allow businesses to soldier on, even if their on-site IT resources have been compromised. And Kingswood pointed out that while insuring against disasters was important, businesses should not neglect to consider continuity measures as just as essential.
The cloud can be used to backup information, as well as to host vital services so that they can be accessed remotely, which is particularly important when it is not possible to continue using a premises following a change of circumstances.
Natural disasters may feature prominently on the list of the most disruptive events to occur in the UK this year, but other factors such as human error also need to be considered when planning for business continuity. Experts advise firms to put practical strategies for recovery in place, whether by embracing flexible working and enabling employees to operate from home as a temporary measure, or by picking out a suitable secondary site from which work can continue.
The cloud can also be a valuable asset in the event of a data breach during which sensitive information is stolen or destroyed by hackers. If this data is backed up remotely, or even stored entirely off-site rather than being housed internally, then recovery is quicker and simpler to instigate.
Furthermore, the flexibility and affordability of cloud computing have helped to make it a viable continuity strategy for businesses of all sizes, not just for multinational corporations. And as 2017 is no less likely to play host to disasters, planning ahead to tackle them with the cloud is an option for all organisations.