Disaster Recovery: What's stopping us moving the furniture upstairs?

The heavy rain last week reminded me of the terrible flooding we experienced in the UK in December last year. This got me thinking that the idea of flooding for many of us is just as unlikely as the idea of our IT systems failing over. I think it is fair to say that we have come to think of ourselves as protected by our tarmac and infrastructure. Floods, however, are a stark reminder that natural disasters can and do still happen in the UK. And let’s face it, you don’t have to be in some far off land to experience a natural disaster.

As I say, this got me thinking about the sort of disasters that could hit our customers – both natural and man-made. Somewhere out there, one or a few of our customers will be experiencing flooding in their businesses and their data centres. And if it keeps raining and the waters rise a little more, they may well then be forced to activate their Disaster Recovery plan. The irony of the moniker 'Disaster Recovery' is that these plans really work best before a disaster. In other words, disaster avoidance as opposed to recovery. However that’s not usually the way things go. Instead, we hesitate to preempt the inevitable and move the metaphorical ‘furniture upstairs’ at 4pm - we wait till 6pm instead when the water is already seeping in.

Why? Because:

IT disasters aren't that different from flood waters

  • Moving furniture - or failing over systems - can be really hard work
  • There's a cost to triggering the failover - often financial and often frightening. What if we pull the trigger for nothing - did we lose thousands of pounds?
  • There is also fear around whether it will all work according to our DR processes and plans quite simply because we have not tested our plan frequently or rigorously enough. We’re not confident now to see it through

Equally, after the disaster or once the failover has immediately happened it is still tough:

  • Moving the furniture BACK is hard work - and thankless if there was not a disaster after all
  • We also wonder if you get it all back and working – might you break the furniture in transport, causing far more of a mess?

Ultimately, there is a real fear that it is all a lot for nothing - if indeed, nothing happens. If something happens of course you're the genius who took evasive action fast and saved the day. But, that's a hard gamble to take for most IT folks.

So, what's the solution?

Remove the obstacles!

Think about it for a moment. If the furniture becomes super-easy to move - both there and back – it becomes a no-brainer. If the costs are predictable and minimal, it's worth the peace of mind. If you're confident and 100% sure nothing will get damaged along the way, it's an easy choice. This is where Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) really comes into its own as it delivers all of these aspects and more.

IT folks have their own houses to worry about. This decision - to protect their workloads, data, apps and IT systems - should be the easy one. So where do you stand? Are you comfortable pulling the trigger - or is your DR option making the disaster worse? Many folks never test or activate their DR plan for fear that it won’t work and will all go terribly wrong. That’s like jumping out of a plane with half a parachute or with a parachute that you have never checked or tested. Ultimately, we all know that half a parachute is about as effective as having no parachute at all.

So the moral of this story – disasters happen more frequently than you think. We need to take the blinkers off, stop burying our heads in the sand and accept that at some point we will need to failover our IT systems. So make sure your DR plan and processes have been thoroughly tested before disaster strikes and that you have a DR option in place that makes it easy and reliable when you need to hit the trigger.

Monica Brink, Director EMEA Marketing at iland

Image Credit: Shuttterstock/Bruce Rolff