Seeking outside assistance can help you confidently regain business productivity after a catastrophe strikes.
Disaster recovery (DR) planning means having a system of processes and tools that allow you to protect valuable data from catastrophe, and to use those back-ups to restore full productivity at your company after serious network downtime occurs.
While most businesses understand the concept of disaster recovery, there are several reasons why it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves.
- Reliable disaster recovery planning takes a high level of expertise and organization
- The sustained effort it requires to maintain often exceeds the ability of an in-house IT team
- With no immediate ROI, it’s an easy project to push down the IT priority list
For the above reasons, many businesses seek outside assistance with their DR planning and maintenance. According to CSO online, 72% of businesses seek disaster recovery assistance from an IT support firm. Not only do they outsource, but it often ends up saving a business money too!
According to Computer Economics, 92% of organizations that outsource disaster recovery to an MSP have equal or lower costs when compared to running these services internally.
What Defines Strong Disaster Recovery?
There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all DR plan and you should be highly skeptical of anyone who claims there is. A DR plan must be customized to the needs and goals of your business. A natural starting point for this process is analyzing the risks that your business is facing. Once you’ve attained a solid understanding of the dangers threatening your network and data, you can begin to build an effective plan to protect them.
Deploying a solid DR system helps safeguard your business catastrophe in its many forms.
One of the main drivers in the DR industry, which is growing at 38% year on year, is the dramatic increase in cyberattacks targeting SMBs. As enterprise defenses continue to improve, hackers are turning toward small and midsized legal and financial firms, healthcare organizations, and other businesses as lucrative targets.While your DR system must be built to protect against ransomware, phishing attacks, and other popular attack vectors, you should also consider so-called “insider threats,” a term for cyberattack perpetuated by your own employees as well.
- Human Error
Many people don’t know that human error is the most common cause of data loss – accounting for up to 75% of all lost business data every year. While any high-quality DR plan will help you mitigate the risk of human error, there are some additional steps you may consider to provide additional protections. Here are a few:
- Provide multiple self-service restore options for employee data
- Create more frequent back-ups for certain types of production data
- Stricter access controls about which data employees can access and delete.
What’s the Difference Between Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity?
You often hear the terms business continuity and disaster recovery used in the same way, which is unfortunate. While the two concepts share some overlapping goals, they’re actually very different activities.
Disaster recovery is primarily a technical process, as it pertains exclusively to IT infrastructure. Like most other technical processes, there are useful metrics we can use to help define and measure the efficacy of a disaster recovery plan.
- Recovery Point Objective (RPO)
This defines the maximum tolerable amount of data you can lose if disaster strikes. For example, how severely would your business be impacted if it lost all production data from the last 24 hours, or 8 hours, or 2 hours? Determining your tolerances helps dictate what type of disaster recovery platform and tools you’ll need to employ.
- Recovery Time Objective (RTO)
RTO is used to indicate the maximum amount of time it should take to restore all your applications and systems after a network outage. This metric gives your organization another useful target around which to build a DR plan and then gauge the efficacy of the resulting solution.
Business Continuity (BC)
This is a larger process that outlines not just how data should be recovered in case of an emergency, but how a business’s overall operations will sustain themselves in case of flood, fire, earthquake, terrorist attack, a pandemic, etc.
While disaster recovery systems are an important part of the business continuity process, there are many other elements that go into a comprehensive BC plan, like cross-training employees, workspace redundancies, and more.
The Importance of Maintaining your DR Systems
Your network technology changes every day. You must ensure that as you add new applications and create new data, your DR system remains as impactful and dependable as when it was first created. That’s why DR maintenance and testing is so important.
There are two popular types of DR test: tabletop or paper tests and disaster recovery simulations. Choosing the right type of test will depend on your workloads, the size of your organization, and the complexity of your IT systems.
- Tabletop testing gathers your organization’s stakeholders to make sure that they’re ready to deal with each of the relevant disasters you identified in your planning stages. The emphasis in this test is on the soft skills of disaster preparedness.
- Disaster recovery simulation (sometimes called a disaster recovery exercise) test the technological processes you’ve implemented to protect your data. Can they recreate a production environment quickly? Do they meet your RPO and RTO requirements? The emphasis here is on the readiness of your technology.
There are other forms of DR testing as well, such as cutover and failover tests, which may be suitable for some mission critical systems, but are not very common among small and midsized business. The takeaway is that no matter which test is right for your organization, don’t let it fall by the wayside. It’s a critical part of good disaster preparation and can make the difference between success and failure when catastrophe strikes.
Complete Network – 20 Years of Disaster Recovery Expertise
We provide businesses in Albany, New York and Charlotte, North Carolina with all the skills and experience they need to build and maintain a successful DR system. If you don’t have a DR system yet, feel like it’s not scaling with your growing business, or have any other DR-related issues, let us know. Our friendly team of engineers loves answering questions and helping businesses achieve greater confidence with their technology.