Let's Talk Disaster Recovery Best Practices

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Jul 13, 2015 5:14:44 PM

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Let's Talk Disaster Recovery Best Practices

The best practices of disaster recovery and business continuity are changing alongside the evolution of markets and industries, as well as the constant proliferation of new threats. Today, companies need to ensure that they are taking an intelligent and modernized approach to protecting their operations, technological assets, users and brand images through the use of advanced services and solutions that can back up data and systems at a low cost. 

Downtime is one of the more challenging and damaging risks to business operations today, and is also not completely understood among all entrepreneurs, corporate leaders and other decision-makers across the private and public sectors. IT security has been a bit more commonly discussed of late, and that is for good reason given how frequently breach events have taken place and the sheer magnitude of damages experienced by firms of all types. 

"Downtime is an extremely complex matter."

However, downtime is a bit more complex of an issue, as it is not nearly as well-understood among decision-makers but can be just as devastating from a brand image, productivity, financial security and continuity standpoint. Gartner analyst Andrew Lerner estimated last summer that the average cost of downtime is $5,600 per minute, and that the cost goes up exponentially when consecutive hours of outages are experienced. 

For example, he pointed out that one hour would cost $300,000 on average, and that, should the problem persist for longer periods of time, the financial damage will sometimes be entirely impossible to overcome by firms experiencing downtime. At the end of the day, small-business owners will tend to be at the greatest risk of these events, as they are traditionally the least prepared to handle the issues in stride. 

This does not have to be the case, though, as leveraging cloud services and unified communications technology can safeguard operations from disruptions and outages. The solutions are also strong drivers of optimal spend management for normal days to boot. Let's dive into some of the best practices of disaster recovery and business continuity as they stand today. 

1. Planning
Small-business owners must be exceptional from a strategic standpoint, working through their own infrastructure, policies, employee needs and more to identify all of the potential vulnerabilities that must be patched within the plan. Remember, as is always the case with modern corporate strategies of any kind, people, process and technology must all be handled properly across the board, and this is especially important in disaster recovery. 

  • People: Employees should be properly trained in the best practices of disaster recovery, as well as their responsibilities when an event takes place and where to look for support. 
  • Process: Policies should be built using an objective-centric model, as well as plenty of customization in accordance to the specific vulnerabilities the business is intending to patch within the strategy. 
  • Technology: The assets in the IT department need to be handled with care, and entrepreneurs can do this by leveraging more robust cloud services for backup and similar needs. 

As long as the plan is exhaustive, forward-thinking and agile enough to adapt to changing risk levels, small businesses will be off to a strong start with their disaster recovery strategies. 

2. Backup
Data and systems must be backed up properly and consistently, ensuring that the chance of information being completely lost when one storage environment goes down is at a healthy zero. Not so long ago, companies would have to rely on backup tapes and other physical devices that could store copies of information, and this was not only an expensive prospect that many entrepreneurs did not oblige, but one that was not all that effective. 

For one, those backups needed to be stored off-site to make a big difference, and it would take plenty of time to retrieve them in the event of a disaster. Today, though, the game has changed significantly, and cloud services can be used to reduce the threat of information loss, as well as make data constantly available even when physical working environments have been entirely compromised by disaster of the natural or man-made type. 

Backup of data and systems is critical to maintaining continuity.Backup of data and systems is critical to maintaining continuity.

So, use cloud services to back up your data - the cloud is simply the best choice out there to do so. What's more, leveraging the tool for other components of IT, such as infrastructure, platforms and software, can help to reduce the risk of disrupted productivity across the board. 

3. UC the benefits
Unified communications technology is already in use among the majority of organizations for daily collaboration needs, but can also be a boon to disaster recovery and continuity performances. In the event of a disaster, communication breakdowns will tend to act as the most significant causes of problems for businesses, and UC solutions can help to reduce any chance of employees falling out of touch with one another or clientele. 

From VoIP made available through portable devices so that staff members can access the systems at home to enterprise mobility incorporated into the UC strategy ahead of a disaster, these technologies are powerful drivers of recovery and continuity. Consider working with a solutions provider that can offer cloud-based UC functionality, as this will tend to add an extra layer of resilience to operations regardless of which threats might manifest over time. 

4. Seasons 
This could potentially fall into the "planning" category of this blog, but it is worth its own special place. Seasons change, and when your disaster recovery and continuity plan does not transform with them, chances are you will be missing some of the more important aspects of risk management for those particular periods. Disaster recovery plans should be somewhat dynamic in this regard, with an underlying and year-long scope on one level, complemented by seasonal adjustments. 

For example, in late summer, hurricane season will pick up and threaten businesses based in the southern half of the United States, while winter will come with more significant risks for those located in the north. Know your climate and have a supplemental continuity plan in place for each season to complement the constant strategy that is relevant throughout the year. 

"Seek out support from a qualified MSP."

5. Get support!
This is maybe the simplest, but most important, aspect of recovery and continuity in the modern era, especially for small-business owners. If you do not have the utmost faith and confident in you and your team's ability to properly handle disaster recovery demands, then make sure you are seeking out the support you need from a managed service provider or similar entity. 

Too many entrepreneurs try to go it alone, thinking they can simply learn as they go. However, remember the statistics listed at the beginning of this blog about how much money the average instance of downtime will cost just for an hour. MSPs can not only help to implement and maintain the technologies to protect your business, but will be even more advantageous when it comes to informing strategies and evaluating plans. 

Whenever in doubt, seek out assistance from the right entities, as it will almost always be safer and more affordable to proactively get a handle on these strategies than the alternative, which would be dealing with the financial, reputational and operational struggles of a major instance of downtime. 

Topics: Business Continuity