“If you fail to plan, plan to fail.”
Whether it’s the current global market volatility or the tsunami of unforeseen operational disruptions that hit businesses in 2020, organizations are fast grasping the appositeness of this adage when assessing the effectiveness of their disaster recovery strategy, or the lack of having one, especially, in the face of a disaster.
Today, the demand and value of data grow more powerful than ever making data availability a cornerstone for being truly data-driven. Frequent data loss not only abrades the power of harnessing data but also makes a business lose its valued customers, revenues as well as opportunities.
To ensure data availability and data recovery, organizations today are using several interspersed turn-key data production solutions along with disaster recovery strategies. But, unfortunately, when the need arrives, the majority of the disaster recovery efforts fail to protect organizations from data loss. And that brings us to write this blog today to dig deep and help you identify the reasons behind failing disaster recovery plans and strategies. Let’s get started.
1. Lack of clarity over recovery dependencies
The key to smooth disaster recovery lies in a strategy that maps the exact expectations and dependencies thoroughly failing which can have devastating impacts. In N-tier or multi-tier applications where functions such as data management, presentation, and processing are often hosted in different environments, it’s important to create a seamless communication channel between these components. When you do not back them up on the same schedule or choose a wrong order to restore them, it leads to failure during the DR. Configuration issues too add to this woe.
Hence, it’s important to 1) document all key dependencies and map them in the DR plan, and 2) think about all the possible downtime scenarios and create a step-by-step detailed plan incorporating potential dependencies and challenges in each step.
2. Ignoring software compatibility issues
Software compatibility issues are often cited as the reason behind unrecoverable data. Think about Volume Shadow Copy Services or VSS from Microsoft. But, thanks to the advanced self-healing solutions that come to the rescue by automatically detecting a wide range of issues that plague data recovery possibilities. By mediating and remediating the issues even before the disaster, it saves organizations from the threat of unrecoverable data.
3. Insufficient or incorrect testing
When it comes to testing the achievability of a disaster recovery plan, most organizations take a lukewarm approach due to a number of reasons - lack of time, resources, processes, or undervalued impact. Likewise testing backup, too, takes a backseat. Failing to frequently perform drills or test the efficacy of DR plans leaves an organization unprepared for a disaster while eroding the DR investments.
A solid DR plan should include rigorous assessment and validation of the recovery capabilities or leverage advanced solutions that automatically test the recovery and backup environment.
4. Lack of data corruption and malware protection
How many times have you lost a special JPEG file because the system flashed a “file corrupted” sign? Imagine the same error during recovering or taking backup of highly valuable enterprise data. From unexpected power cuts to filesystem issues, there are plenty of reasons behind data corruption that IT teams have to deal with regularly. Add to that malware in the backup environment. The increasingly advanced cyber miscreants are creating malware that can lie dormant for a long time stealthily entering the backup systems, making it impossible to recover lost data.
Reason why it’s important to invest in a DR solution that is capable of detecting such threats in advance and ensure safe recovery with uninfected backups. Cyclic redundancy checking or CRC integration is another proven method to detect accidental changes and protect enterprises from data corruption.
5. Configuration gap between production and recovery
Every time there is a hardware update or a system removed or a configuration altered that is not communicated to the DR team, the divergence widens, increasing the possibility of failure. Hence, it’s crucial to keep the maintenance of recovery plans and configurations in lock-step aligned with the production environment.
6. Lack of consolidated information
Organizations often save recovery-related data in more than one place. It can be their CMDB or shared file system or ticketing, the relevant information is hardly consolidated and aligned with the recovery plan. Moreover, it adds to the perennial challenge of duplicate entries jeopardizing the recovery plan. To solve this issue, organizations need to create one consolidated, cohesive and coherent source of information.
Equally significant is to create a comprehensive recovery process that should include milestones and order of recovery operations in detail. This framework can point to other sources of information that can be accessed immediately during a recovery process.
7. Organizational readiness
There are two aspects to organizational readiness—planning and communication. Planning requires different teams to get involved. Unfortunately, most organizations often shift their focus on developing the recovery strategy document over planning. As a result, teams miss their opportunities in getting involved in the process. Even if a detailed plan is created, the leadership team fails to share it across the organization. Employees fail to get the demo.
The success of a disaster recovery often depends on the availability of the DR plan across multiple locations. Besides multiple soft copies, organizations must also ensure that hard copies of the plan are available in case there’s a power outage during natural calamities.
8. Focus on ‘recovery’ and not ‘prevention’
Let us conclude with another adage, prevention is better than cure. So, would you rather allow tolerable downtime once in a while or find a way to avoid the disruption? Many businesses let recovery be their guiding principle instead of creating a fail-proof risk mitigation plan. Today, technology service providers are increasingly focusing on risk mitigation steps by offering high-availability servers, data centers, configuration, link aggregation for network configuration, and a lot more to minimize the chances of a disaster.
Cloud4C, a market leader in maintaining highly available environments, provides simple, cost-effective, modern data backup and recovery strategies with Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) frameworks custom-designed to meet the demands of enterprises to bring resilience to business models. You can read more about our DRaaS here.