Business Continuity and Alternate Site Distance

The pairing of business continuity and alternate sites has around for some time. Whether hot, warm, cold, mirrored or even mobile, the idea is to provide facilities for an organisation to continue to function, at least at a basic level, if disaster strikes normal operations. The question that arises is how close or how far such an alternate site should be located. There are good reasons for locating an alternate site close to an employees’ usual place of work, as there are also for moving it into a completely different geographical region. However, recent developments may mean that the distance discussion may be becoming less relevant.

Locating a geographical site close to where employees work, for example about thirty or forty minutes by car, has the following arguments in its favour: there are minimal disruptions to normal routines and also limited extra costs; employees can also tend to matters at home more easily, if a disaster is affecting them personally; and suppliers may find it easier to make deliveries closer to the normal site of operations, rather than rerouting to different regions. On the other hand, if a disaster wipes out transport, power and communications facilities in a wider area, business continuity and alternate site location that is completely removed from that area will be the combination more likely to work.

The other possibility is to take distance out of the business continuity and alternate site equation altogether. For IT operations, it’s already possible. Cloud computing services are making increasing sense for organisations, from small to medium sized business and more and more for large corporate players. When alternate computing facilities are ready to run over the cloud, employees connect and work wherever they have an internet connection. While cloud computing still needs careful planning, including for aspects such as network security,  some roles are better suited to this type of teleworking than others, it solves the “near or far” distance dilemma simply by eliminating it.