Technology underpins practically every part of a business; but the more we rely on our tools, networks and applications, the more we have to lose if they fail us. That’s why every business needs a plan in place to quickly restore and recover IT systems in the event of a failure – in other words, a disaster recovery (DR) plan.
But knowing what you have to do is often a lot easier than actually doing it. As such, there’s a world of difference between thinking you’re prepared for a disaster and having a comprehensive DR plan in place.
The benefits of a disaster recovery plan
The purpose of a disaster recovery plan is to reduce damage or disruption and recover as quickly as possible in the event of a disaster that leads to system failure.
DR plans usually have two key components: a recovery time objective (RTO) and a recovery point objective (RPO).
The RTO is the time it takes to recover systems after an outage, which determines how much time you need to restore business operations. The RPO reveals how often a backup needs to take place, by setting a limit for the length of time the company can sustain data loss.
Creating a DR plan can also have immediate benefits. For instance, because developing the plan involves conducting an audit of your IT assets and Service Level Agreements, you’ll better understand the organisation’s IT estate. You'll know who is responsible for which assets and when they need to recover systems and restore backups.
What makes an effective DR plan?
Your disaster recovery plan might look good on paper, but without practical backing to support its implementation and activation, it is unlikely to live up to its promise.
Define people’s roles
For any disaster recovery plan to work, it needs people. These people should know their roles within the plan and should receive training so they’re clear what they need to when it’s crunch time.
Establish a communication plan
A communication plan names and records the departments and employees involved in the DR plan, with the relevant contact details. It should also include vendors, partners and customers.
As your business grows and its IT infrastructure changes, your DR plan needs to keep pace with those changes through regular audits and tests.
The famous quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin warns that “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”. Which is good as far as it goes but if your plan isn’t any good, you’re just as likely to fail, only at a far more vulnerable stage. That’s why testing is so important.
The rise of Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service
With so many businesses adopting cloud-based services and applications, Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) solutions are increasingly popular.
Even before the pandemic, IDC estimated as many as half of all organisations could not survive a disaster event because of inadequate DR planning and implementation.
Research director Phil Goodwin recently stated that “the pendulum has swung towards disaster recovery in the cloud,” because the “cloud has changed the economics of disaster recovery.”
Benefits of DRaaS include:
Faster recovery with an immediate switch over to a backup system.
Flexibility – the ability to recover from many disaster types with a single solution.
Security – DRaaS providers offer seamless redundancy with no single point of failure, to keep data securely backed up.
Less need for redundant hardware, as DRaaS offers flexible pay-as-you-grow models.