Business continuity occupies that unique section of contingency planning – effort and resources devoted to high-functioning solutions organizations hope that they never have to use. Disasters can and do happen, however, and so companies must be at the ready. Historically, business continuity presented a basic problem – how to ensure that whatever disaster befell the mainframe systems wouldn't also impact the backup ones. Businesses, partners and clients can ill afford to take this risk.

Disaster concerns are also rising. According to a business continuity study by a leading telecommunications firm, 63 percent of business executives considered data breaches to be their foremost security concern. More businesses are also getting proactive, the survey found – 87 percent of respondents said that their organizations have a business continuity plan established to respond to a disaster or threat. This is a slight increase from last year, when 86 percent of executives indicated that they had such a plan.

Cloud service providers specialize in business continuity planning merely by offering their solutions. The study found that 76 percent of companies will be using the cloud by the end of 2013. Sixty-six percent of companies use or are considering adopting cloud services as part of their business continuity strategy. Forty-nine percent of executives said their companies use cloud computing for disaster recovery of data. Virtualization and IaaS solutions can go a long way toward eliminating the kinds of storage and location-based risks that have long concerned organizations.

Taking a proactive approach to readiness
Business continuity plans should be among the first developed by any organization that values its information and resources. Baseline Magazine contributor Bob Violino recently highlighted the many considerations that factor into business continuity preparedness, including backup and recovery strategies, IT service management, system monitoring solutions, data warehousing and properly covered networks. An issue in one of these sections can exacerbate problems in another, making it essential that organizations don't utilize potentially self-compromising strategies. IaaS clouds condense business continuity planning while offering better monitored, more highly maintained solutions.

Providing stringent security solutions
Virtualization is a secure and powerful service provided by enterprise cloud computing. If a physical or desktop environment is compromised, reported FedTech Magazine, the connection between the compromised device and the cloud can be blocked without the threat of data loss. If an office becomes unavailable, personnel can access the same computing platform, with the same level of security, from an alternative device. Enterprise IaaS clouds protect operations and data at all costs.

Making business continuity spending cost-effective
Since business continuity is a critical contingency source of spending, rather than a daily operations one, companies want to make it as cost-effective as possible. Not wasting resources, or being able to spend more upfront to produce bigger savings over time are pricing priorities to which the cloud is well-suited, according to Violino.

"The on-demand nature and geographic diversity afforded by the cloud lets organizations put backup operations far away from their primary operations at an affordable price," he wrote.