When you are running a business, disaster can strike anytime. You could suffer a network outage, a critical bug can bring your website crashing, your data may have leaked or if you are very unfortunate, a natural calamity could impact your business.The alarming numbers speak for themselves across the world: According to a study by Strategic Research, the cost of downtime is estimated at close to $90,000 per hour, while a study by Touche Ross states that the survival rate for companies without a disaster recovery plan is less than 10%!
You can never really predict what can impact your business adversely. But what one can do is have a good Disaster Recovery (DR) strategy in place, that can protect your business, in the event of an emergency. A DR plan has to be well-tested, fool-proof and ready to be launched under any circumstance.
The challenges of DR planning
There are many issues that plague a company’s DR strategies, leading to an inefficient or an insufficient DR plan. Some of the more commonly faced challenges are:
Not having a DR plan in place.
The plan has not been adequately tested
The plan is unreliable and includes unnecessary technology.
It’s a very time-consuming process.
The hesitation to spend money on a non-revenue generating initiative
Since every business environment is unique, customised and smart Disaster Recovery Plan tailormade for your needs could save your business a lot of time, money and data loss, in the future. It’s an investment that pays off. Here are some points to keep in mind while planning your DR strategy.
Conduct a business risk analysis: The first thing that needs to be done before choosing a DR plan is to determine the possible extent of damage to your business, in case of a disaster. While the risks can vary with industry, it varies from financial loss and reputation damage to disruption in operation. A complete analysis should be made to calculate the loss and identify the critical applications that need to be protected on priority. A systems prioritization strategy is crucial as you don’t want to waste your resources and time on assets that are not critical, during pressing circumstances. Instead, focus on mission-critical applications. It’s very crucial to fix your Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) right at the beginning before selecting the right DR strategy. Your plan should be designed to mitigate the risks that you identify in your impact analysis.
Optimize technical requirements: When you are preparing a DR plan to protect your business from disruption, you need to assess your infrastructure inventory and factor it into the plan. You will need to take stock of the hardware needed at the DR site and create a list of applications required, along with support licenses and costs. After you do your research, zeroing in on a final configuration for your hardware and software will help in choosing the best recovery process plan. For example, it’s important to assess your bandwidth usage and requirements and check for compatibility between databases and backup networks, to ensure the best results. Infrastructure that needs to be in place includes IP address assignment, DNS that is local to each site, an active directory to secure access to recovered systems, and a solid virtualization plan.
Focus on virtualization: It’s a great idea to tie in your cloud and virtualization efforts together as it will give you many benefits. Apart from giving you the advantage of the portability of applications, virtualization with a pay-as-you-go model will cut down on your costs and save you the resources of investing in another data center. An off-site DR strategy for your applications along with a robust recovery plan will ensure that your data in the cloud can be recovered effectively, ensuring complete business continuity.
Effective data management: It’s imperative to address the root cause of the disaster, which could be a failure in data and infrastructure management. When there is lack of sufficient infrastructure monitoring, it creates an inability to act responsively in the case of equipment failure or hitches. Resource management tools and data classification tools can help manage the resources and infrastructure better and keep you in the loop even when there is a remote possibility of a failure of systems.
Reinforce your WAN services: You have to ensure that your WAN services are performing at peak efficiency to enable efficient data restoration and to support remote access to applications which are either in a cloud environment or a company-owned facility. Your recovery facility or backup data should be located at an optimal distance and separation from your business environment to keep your business continuity protected in case of a disaster. A backup plan should also be in place wherein you have the ability to provide backup redundancy in case your primary WAN service is also affected by the disaster that has hit your business.
Devise a bandwidth management strategy: It’s important to know that Cloud DR can be bandwidth intensive and your company needs to be provided with adequate bandwidth by the service provider, to enable successful data transfer for backup and restoration. At the time of backup and restoration, it’s also a challenge to see to it that there isn’t an unstructured usage of bandwidth that eats into the resources. To ensure this, a prioritization plan should be put in place which provisions the resources to the important bandwidth-intensive services and has a data deduplication process to manage the usage effectively.
Ensure DR protocol training: Your data recovery plan has to ensure that your entire organization is prepared, in time of crisis. Everyone from the IT staff to key business personnel must be trained in the right course of action. The first step is to identify the critical people who will be in-charge or who will be alerted, the second disaster strikes. Specific roles and responsibilities should be delegated to the staff, who must be trained to deploy the right protocol, based on the DR scenario. Every person involved in the process should be briefed and should be aware of each other’s responsibilities to ensure efficient initiation and execution of the DR plan. A plan B should also be in place with a secondary team of employees, in case the first team is unable to respond on time.
Perform multiple testing: Testing is the most crucial factor for a good DR plan. Without testing the effectiveness of the strategy, you will never be assured of the best results. DR environments must constantly be tested to check if they are functional and optimized. You need to see how your hardware functions, how your staff respond and how the actual plan pans out, in case of a real disaster. The tests should be frequent, rigorous and thorough to figure out the areas that need improvement. Failures while executing the DR plan is only a stepping stone because it means that you get the opportunity to modify the problem areas. These trial runs tremendously help in making the final process way more foolproof than the plan you started out with.
Stay up to date and relevant: Not updating the disaster recovery plan is the biggest disaster that you can subject your business to. If your business has managed to breeze through months or years of no disaster, it is no excuse to think the plan will always remain effective in the future. Even after the smallest of changes made to your internal systems like software updates or hardware upgrades, you have to check if it has impacted your disaster recovery plan. It’s also imperative to keep a lookout for new technologies, services, and processes available in the rapidly-changing industry to make sure your business is protected by the advantages of the latest approach.
Any company that uses technology for its everyday function needs a good disaster recovery plan. Cloud4C offers Disaster Recovery on Demand solutions that offers complete security and business continuity without the hassle of having to setup your own in-house IT disaster recovery plan, helping companies bounce back faster than ever, from the worst of disasters.
Please drop us an email on email@example.com should you need assistance from our DR strategist.