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Companies to establish BCP before embarking on SaaS

4 March 2013
ZDNet

+Official Coverage on ZDNet

Companies to establish BCP before embarking on SaaS

Many companies are hesitant to move to a cloud model because of the difficulty of being constantly online. Companies operating in emerging markets with weaker broadband infrastructure should establish business continuity plans (BCP) before embarking on software-as-a-service (SaaS), as poor broadband connectivity increases the risk of outages and disruptions.

BCP for SaaS is integral in locations with weak broadband infrastructure.  However, it is more difficult to factor BCP into the deployment of SaaS with a third-party managing almost the entire system; as this would leave companies with limited ability to tweak the application and underlying infrastructure to suit their business requirements. Besides, since SaaS has no hardware, it is treated as an extension of a company’s IT environment, and is thus included in the overall BCP or disaster recovery (DR) strategy.

Yap Far Loon, Business Development Director, Telecommunications of Spire Research and Consulting, opined that planning for business continuity goes beyond the evaluation of service-level agreements (SLAs). He suggests that companies should

Contact existing customers who have provided testimonials for SaaS vendors to gain a better understanding of their services;
Consider the lead time the vendors take to restore services; and
Find out how they can protect themselves against situations of failure to restore.

Yap added that another option would be to explore an offline mode for SaaS apps, one which stores data on a local server until the internet connection is up again.

Vendors can also play their part by factoring in redundancy, or offering alternatives such as virtual desktop tools to help companies maintain continuity of their operations in times of broadband outage. They could also help customers fine-tune their BCP development.

In the final analysis, Yap commented that companies must also avoid over dependence on any one vendor to cope with network outages, and should assume responsibility when dealing with connectivity issues. 

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