Chief Operating Officer
“Be Prepared” may be a motto coined by the Boy Scouts but it can easily be applied to many aspects of IT operations and in particular disaster recovery. Disaster recovery is a crucial piece of any business as we become increasingly reliant on technology and a connected ecosystem. Many organizations realize how important disaster recovery is to the business but have assumed it’s out of reach. Do you have a solid plan in place to help your business recover in the event of a natural or human-made disaster?
We recognized the need for disaster recovery back in the mid to late 1970’s when it was apparent that companies were becoming more dependent on technology. Floods, earthquakes, power outages, hazardous material spills, infrastructure failures, IT viruses and failed change implementations all represent a real and present danger to your business continuity.
When your business is down there is a real cost, I don’t care how small your company is. This can range from several thousand dollars a day to millions depending on your business. Larger businesses probably already do have a disaster recovery capability and plan in place. When it comes to small and medium business it is often seen to be unaffordable, complex and not feasible to put a capability in place, let alone do the planning and testing for a disaster scenario.
You may be thinking that a strong, sound disaster recovery (DR) plan is going to cost you far too much in time, energy and cost. I’m here to tell you that recovery technology is now more than ever within your reach and can be more affordable than you think with today’s cloud technology. It’s no longer a mandatory requirement for all businesses to have a designated offsite DR center. As long as you are in the cloud, your data and systems are safer in the event of a disaster and your employees can connect virtually from anywhere. Here’s how you can prepare and plan prior to completing a formal DR Analysis with a qualified consultant like Bulletproof.
Perform a full inventory of your business’s hardware and software and utilized capacity and performance: This activity is not only great for DR planning but also for cloud migration planning so if you aren’t in the cloud yet you get to kill two birds with one stone. There are great tools available to help you with gathering this baseline, we can even do it for you or work with you through it. Create a comprehensive list ensuring you include all relevant vendor and supplier information as well as their up to date contact information because this will be needed.
Downtime tolerance is needed for each of the applications and systems that run your business: We can’t answer this question for you. Grouping your assets into tiers helps an organization prioritize effectively. Tier 1 are all the systems and applications that your business needs immediately, real time failover or within hours. Tier 2 are systems and applications that can wait 8-24 hours, and Tier 3 is the systems and applications that you’d be ok without for a few days to several weeks. These downtime tolerances are often called your Recovery Time Objectives or (RTOs). Preparing for this discussion saves you time in a consulting engagement.
Acceptable amount of data loss: You also need to consider for these how much data loss is acceptable. Can you afford to lose all data since the last daily backup? Do you replicate data hourly to reduce that loss? The answers to these questions are called your Recovery Points (RPOs).
Think about the key personnel for each application and the systems they run on: It is important to tag a subject matter expert to each of the applications/systems you have. Make sure you have up to date contact information.
Create a solid communication plan: This is a piece of the plan you can do yourself and is an important piece of your DR plan. How will you communicate with employees if emails and phones are down? How will you communicate to the public? It is smart and highly beneficial to have a response drafted that you can post on your website and social media accounts. You also want to ensure you update your customers in a timely matter with ETA’s of when you expect to be back to business as usual, how will you do that? This is an important if not crucial step that can help save your business. If customers feel like they are “in the know” they are more reassured that you are doing your best. There is nothing that irks a customer more than being left in the dark. Some parts of the plan will depend on the technical solution but you can figure out most of this.
Plan for how your employees can work: Having a DR capability is great but how will your employees work? From home, from a designated alternate location, what does your business workflow require, do they need to be together, is there plant and equipment outside of IT that means some employees won’t be needed during this interruption?
Conclusion: The ultimate goal of disaster recovery is to help minimize the impact of the outage and to get your business back up on its feet as quickly as possible. Today’s cloud technology puts DR capability within affordable reach and changes the conversation about recovery time and even day to day resiliency. Data protection, high availability, and recovery effort were always the costliest aspects to implementing a DR plan and cloud makes this a whole lot easier. Prior to creating your DR plan, it is important to do a full business impact analysis and some planning homework so you will know what is most important for your recovery and how to prioritize the functions, and remember it is vital to your business to take your time to do it right.