news.cuna.org/articles/39715-cloud-computing-offers-continuous-operations

Cloud Computing Offers Continuous Operations

Would your current infrastructure survive an emergency?

December 9, 2014

When it comes to facing an emergency or disaster, financial institutions are far more attuned to the threats than most other industries.

With an acute need for high availability, business continuity, and reputational integrity, financial institutions cannot afford to fail in their responses to disasters, large or small.

Brandon O'Donoghue
Brandon O'Donoghue

Typically, disaster recovery plans and strategies become shelf-life material, updated annually for board approval and audit review purposes.

At many financial institutions, recovery strategies consist of backing up servers and data to tape, hard drives, or perhaps an online backup solution. Some institutions still invest significant capital on redundant disaster recovery infrastructure and backup system resources that are very seldom used and still contain multiple failure points.

Even with those measures in place, it could take days or well over a week for an institution to fully recover.

Today, however, new cloud computing technologies are solving this long-standing issue, making continuous operations at financial institutions straight-forward and more affordable than in-house recovery strategies.

In 2014, the U.S. suffered from one of the worst winters in many years. Nevertheless, financial institutions using cloud computing fared considerably better than those with in-house networks because their critical systems and applications were hosted in the cloud at a geographically distant and secure data center, making it easy for them to operate at a secondary location with no operational impact to the organization.

Several things become clear when evaluating the merits of operating in the cloud. Namely, financial institutions:

1. Discover how increased system availability and instantaneous disaster recovery capability significantly improve the ability to recover from an unforeseen event with little impact on operations.

2. Realize an ability to access their work environment securely from any Internet access point, at any time, with any PC, laptop, or even tablet.

3. Know that their operating systems and software versions are always kept up-to-date and compatible with one another and with all other critical applications.

4. Find that cloud computing allows them to take advantage of tremendous flexibility and predictable information technology (IT) costs while remaining compliant with current and future financial IT regulatory requirements.

Don't be fooled into hoping you are positioned for continuous operations during an emergency or disaster with your current on premise infrastructure.

If you are like most small to mid-sized financial institutions, that hope can be dashed at the worst moment as a result of a generally untested business continuity manual that’s been sitting on the shelf for a year, with the realization that your secondary site cannot support your operations in your moment of need.

BRANDON O’DONOGHUE is risk and compliance engagement manager for D+H, a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider.