7 Levels of Business Continuity Plans in the Cloud

There’s something about the number seven that makes it a favourite choice for models of all sorts. They range from the layers of the standard network model (the OSI version at least) to telephone selling methodologies (depending on what you’re selling) and of course colours of the rainbow. Since 1956 and “Miller’s Law” in psychology, seven (“plus or minus two”) is also the number popularly assigned to “the quantity of objects a human being can hold in working memory at any one time”. So, no surprises, here’s a model for seven levels in the use of cloud computing for a business continuity plan.

With each higher stage, an individual organisation acquires the potential for a more extensive business continuity plan (given a reliable, high-performing cloud services provider, of course). Levels 1 to 3 still have a link back to systems outside the cloud, which are then usually on the organisation’s premises. From level 4 upwards, the umbilical cord is cut; the differences between levels 4 to 7 are in how much cloud computing resources are being used to either allow manual failovers or successively smarter solutions to keeping the organisation’s IT running without a hitch. The seven levels are:

  1. Data back-up to the cloud
  2. Mirrored data in the cloud
  3. All data and back-ups in the cloud
  4. All data and applications in the cloud
  5. Applications and mirrored data in the cloud
  6. Hot standby in the cloud
  7. Multiple, load-balanced everything in the cloud

As with any business continuity plan, any solution needs to be correctly designed, tested and financed. However, whereas level 7 before cloud started used to be the prerogative of relatively large companies (because it was relatively expensive), cloud computing economics now bring this level of BC comfort into range for a considerable number of smaller companies with more modest budgets.