Disaster Recovery is both the planning for and implementation of countermeasures in the event of a “disaster”. The disaster in question may be either a physical disaster (such as an office fire, or a snowstorm/flood preventing you accessing your building) or a technological disaster (such as your phone system failing or your servers being infected by malware).
What constitutes a “disaster” will be different for each individual business. There is therefore no one size fits all disaster recovery plan which can be applied to every company. Each business must develop their own disaster recovery plan and be responsible for testing and, if need be, implementing it.
Common elements of disaster recovery plans include:
- Cloud Backup Solutions
Real time, continuous backup of business-critical data to the cloud allows for that same data to be restored quickly in the event of a disaster.
- Backup Premises
Very large companies may well have a backup premises rented which would allow a skeleton staff to continue operation while repairs were made to a main premise.
- Advanced Work From Home Provisions
In the event that a business’s office is not able to be accessed, a company may implement a temporary work from home policy. This would require provisions such as a cloud-hosted VoIP telecoms system in order to continue business communications. A corporate VPN may well be required in order to allow staff to securely access sensitive data from home.
- Assigned Roles For Team Members
Just as you would have assigned roles for certain staff members during a fire drill, an effective disaster recovery plan will have assigned roles for several staff members. These would cover tasks such as heading up data recovery or being charge of communications between different team members.
Many businesses choose to outsource their disaster recovery planning and execution to a third-party managed IT provider with extensive experience with disaster recovery planning.
The benefits of an effective and well-constructed disaster recovery plan are manifold, including:
1. Peace Of Mind
The motto “expect the best, prepare for the worst” is never truer than when dealing with disaster recovery. Knowing that you have contingencies in place for a variety of situation will give you peace of mind when running your business day to day.
If there is a potential business disaster which is keeping you up at night, it probably means that you do not have an effective disaster recovery plan in place. A lack of effective plans for recovery can impact businesses by making them too cautious and uncompetitive comparted to their better prepared rivals.
2. Return to Work Sooner
Businesses with a disaster recovery plan are able to return to normal operations far quicker than those without a disaster recovery plan. In fact, some businesses without a DR plan are never able to return to work. For example, if a business relies on data to make money and a ransomware attack locks them out of their data permanently, what is the company worth?
3. Scalability & New Technologies
The process of disaster recovery planning is an excellent way to learn about your business, it’s IT systems, it’s strengths and its weaknesses. Until it comes time to make a disaster recovery plan, many businesses have never actually examined their business holistically. As effective planning involves investigating every aspect of your business, from the individual staff members to the IT network itself – many businesses use this as a great time to do a full audit of their processes.
This can be a great time to implement new technologies. Disaster recovery solutions such as cloud computing and real time backups not only help to protect your business but also to unlock new ways of working which can be quicker, more efficient or most cost effective than existing processes. Cloud-based business processes are also much more scalable than their physical equivalents, allowing businesses to expand with more ease.
4. Increased Efficiency
Disaster recovery often involves having redundancies in place, whether this is extra staff members or extra computer processing power. When not in the midst of a “disaster” these redundancies can be used to increase productivity across the organisation.
Business can be a cut-throat world and your competition will quickly take advantage of any downtime your company suffers. Every day that you are not operating is a day that you can’t gain new customers and eventually existing customers will also start to drop off too if you are unable to provide them with continuous customer service.
There are very few businesses which can sustain an extended period of downtime and having a well-choreographed, rehearsed and easily implementable disaster recovery plan is the best way to prevent downtime. Very few organisations have the technical skill or time to properly plan their disaster recovery. It is therefore recommended that you contact a managed IT provider with a proven track record of not just planning but also implementing disaster recovery. Always ask for specific examples of when they have implemented each of the solutions they suggest.