Technology can empower businesses to greater levels of productivity and efficiency, but for those that lack the right plan, it can also make them more susceptible to catastrophe.
Disaster Recovery is one of the least-flashy IT services — in much the same way that insurance isn’t particularly sexy. It doesn’t help you communicate with clients in better ways or conduct business more efficiently, nor does it keep you ahead of the competition or give you a competitive advantage. But, just like an insurance policy, a good disaster recovery plan can be crucial to keeping your organization in business after catastrophe strikes.
It’s been well documented that businesses facing catastrophic data loss have a very high chance of going out of business — as high as 50% according to statistics from a recent Datto report. A strong DR plan can help defend your business against those problems, whether it be ransomware attack, equipment failure, or a natural disaster that harms your physical office space. According to the Datto report mentioned above, over 90% of businesses with a strong DR strategy were able to weather catastrophe and move forward unharmed.
While the fundamentals of good DR planning haven’t changed much over time, there’s a new wave of technologies that are having a major effect on DR strategy and implementation, developments that all SMBs should be aware of. First, let’s start with some basics.
Backing up data is generally considered a low-cost solution for long-term storage. Back-ups are essential to securing your business, but they’re just one part of the DR process, which is a much more ambitious concept that involves storing critical data, keeping it safe and secure, and then using that data to restore operations at your business as quickly as possible after a crisis occurs.
The complexity of proper DR starts with a deep planning and strategy phase. Do you have a good grasp on your company’s risk profile? Which data centers are you going to use for off-site storage, how physically safe and secure are they? Who in your organization is responsible for DR planning and testing, and when was the last time they ran a comprehensive test of your strategy? Formulating a solid DR plan requires having an answer to each of these questions.
The efficacy of a disaster recovery plan is usually measured using two different metrics. The first one is recovery point objective (RPO), which defines the age of data that is needed to restore a business back to full operations. If your company needs to ensure the safety of files that are 12 months old or newer, then that would be your RPO.
Another important term is recovery time objective (RTO), which defines how quickly your business needs to recover service after disaster strikes. Calculating your RTO includes weighing several factors, like the size of your office, how much data your business produces, and how long your business can go without accessing its data. For a rough estimate on this, you can refer to resources from around the web, like Datto’s Recovery Time Calculator to give you a ballpark estimate of your RTO and recovery cost.
Why is 2021 a good time to plan or update your disaster recovery strategy? The rise of cloud-based disaster recovery solutions, including Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), puts solid disaster recovery service within easier reach than ever before. While cloud-based DR solutions have existed for several years, back-up as a service (BaaS) and DRaaS solutions are achieving a level of stability and maturity that makes them compelling options for companies that haven’t yet implemented a disaster recovery plan or are looking to modernize their existing plan.
Cloud DR solutions and DRaaS offer many compelling benefits over traditional disaster recovery services, the most compelling of which is cost savings. The expense of purchasing space in a back-up data center and paying for the upkeep of that equipment can escalate quickly. In the traditional disaster recovery model, ensuring the reliable failover of mission-critical IT infrastructure meant essentially doubling your data center expenditure — including network equipment, maintenance costs, power bills — on top of the cost of IT personnel to make sure those redundant systems provided dependable DR service.
In contrast, the latest generation of cloud-based DR solutions can minimize and consolidate many of those costs into a single, manageable fee. This enables businesses of all sizes to purchase a DR solution that’s right-sized to their needs, and scale that solution up or down without the hassle of managing a second location. This flexibility is driving tremendous growth in the DRaaS market, which according to research firm Gartner, is going to nearly double in size to $3.7bn in the next 2 years.
This is not to say that cloud-based solutions are a silver bullet. The cloud DR market is crowded and fragmented, with many companies still struggling for market leadership. The overwhelming number of options can make finding the right vendor an overwhelming challenge for organizations that aren’t sure what kind of DR solution they need.
As with any cloud computing initiative, navigating the early strategic phases can also be a source of concern for business that don’t have in-house cloud expertise as well. In terms of security, you should learn more about the various encryption options your BaaS or DRaaS vendors provide, ensure they fulfill any regulatory or compliance standards your firm is expected to meet, and manage your own encryption keys to ensure optimal security.
Other issues that need addressing with cloud-based DR solutions include the management of possible latency issues, containing data transfer costs to and from the cloud service, and ensuring that monthly bills don’t get out of hand by storing too much old data in the cloud — data that should be archived at a much lower price elsewhere.
Complete Network is passionate about helping business in Albany, NY and Charlotte, NC navigate the sometimes tricky – but ultimately very beneficial – world of cloud-based DR solutions, making the most of their disaster recovery dollar. If you’d like help with DR planning or implementation, we invite you to contact us with your questions at either [email protected] or 877.877.1840.
Note: This article was originally published in 2019 and then updated in 2021.