Business Continuity and the Cloud – 4 Key Questions to Ask Your Cloud Service Provider

Ask any IT director what the single biggest issue is that keeps them awake at night, and the majority of them will answer “business continuity.” Today’s technology means that time zones and geographical boundaries are meaningless. Businesses operate 24 x 7 x 365. At least until a disaster strikes that is. There’s no question that IT directors who collaborate with their cloud service providers (CSPs) to ensure that their business-critical websites, applications and data remain online sleep a lot better than those who don’t. While every organization has its unique complexities, following are 4 key questions to ask your CSP about business continuity and disaster recoveryBusiness Continuity and Disaster Recovery

What security measures do you have in place at your data centers?

Business interruption is often caused by either human error or lack of adequate security. Therefore, it is critical to understand what preventative measures your CSP has implemented at their data centers. At a minimum, data centers should have round-the-clock, multi-layered security including:

  • 24 x 7 x 365 on-premise personnel
  • Biometric authentication
  • Video surveillance

Additionally, your CSP should work with you to develop an Access Control that provides detailed information about the following:

  • Who has physical access to the data center
  • Who is authorized to access the customer portal
  • Which users are authorized to request changes, order capacity or add / remove users to the Access Control List

What asset monitoring tools and reporting metrics do you have in place?

 A top cloud service provider should offer a comprehensive set of tools that provide an at-a-glance view of current website availability, performance metrics, trending data and historical data. These tools should be accessible by the CSP and your internal IT resources through a secure, custom portal. Key monitoring tools include the following.

Port Monitoring

  • Port monitoring provides automated, real-time visibility into TCP port status. After a monitor is set up, it is automatically polled at regular intervals to verify that the server is responding correctly.

Server Performance Monitoring

  • Server performance monitoring displays CPU, firewall sessions, disk and memory utilization metrics, graphs and operating system data to ensure organizations are achieving stated goals and performing against baseline.

Application Performance Monitoring

  • Application performance monitoring provides visibility into the infrastructure stack, allowing control of thresholds for metrics such as memory usage, disk space, and bandwidth so that issues are intercepted as they occur. Companies can make data-driven decisions about application infrastructure.

What back up and replication services do you offer?

Your CSP should have cloud security experts on staff to create and execute a custom backup and recovery solutions based on your application requirements. They should seamlessly integrate either your on-premise environment with a pre-determined recovery site, or one of their data centers with a recovery site. Finally, your CSP should offer the following services:

Enterprise Backup Services

  • Enterprise backup solutions use advanced, disk-based technology to provide both local and remote backup to a data center from either a customer’s environment or another data center.

Cloud Replication Services

  • Cloud replication connects an organization’s on premises and cloud-based environments with a recovery infrastructure for off-site data replication and continuous application availability.

What recovery service level agreements are provided for my application in case of a business interruption?

Service level agreements (SLAs) should include specific guarantees for network, infrastructure and hardware availability. The SLA should also provide a detailed support overview that prioritizes services incidents, expected response times from the CSP and actions needed by the customer.  Finally, the SLA should list penalties for the CSP’s failure to meet the terms of the SLA. If there are no penalties, the SLA is essentially meaningless. It is estimated that nearly half of businesses who experience a natural disaster go out of business. Another 29% close their doors within two years. Contact us to learn how business continuity solutions from HOSTING keep business-critical applications running – so you can get a good night’s sleep.


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