You can plan for it. You can train for it. You can create as many systems designed to prevent it as you want, but at the end of the day disasters still occur and they happen when we least expect them.
Whether it’s a natural disaster that knocks a data centre offline or a cyber attack that ravages critical systems, there’s no shortage of damage that can happen to a business during this time. According to Gartner, companies can lose an average of $5600 per minute in an outage – $300,000 per hour.
It’s imperative to have a comprehensive disaster recovery plan in place to ensure your business is properly prepared to cope with any disaster that comes along, in order to get back up and running as soon as possible. To make sure your plan is airtight and isn’t leaving any room for error, there are several questions you should ask along the way.
- Does each member of your team have a defined role?
Having a disaster recovery team with defined roles is key. You need to consider each person’s responsibilities and establish a communication plan. This includes having contact information for the team readily accessible at all times, with roles, responsibilities and contact details clearly detailed. Having clearly defined roles along with a concrete communication plan will make carrying out a disaster recovery plan infinitely easier from the get-go.
- Do you have access to additional budget?
Much like the unpredictable nature of a disaster itself, unexpected costs can be a barrier to getting back online. Do you need to failover onto the cloud? You’ll have to prepare for the usage fees associated with it. Do you need to bring in consultants or contractors to assist you? You’ll have to pay them just as much, if not more than your employees.
Every minute of downtime can result in huge IT expenses, especially for larger enterprises. Taking into account these unplanned expenses ahead of time and building them into the overall disaster recovery plan is critical to ensure your team doesn’t meet any further snags when trying to get authorisation for these costs.
- Is your data mobile?
When a data centre goes offline, your data may have to temporarily go elsewhere - i.e. the cloud - in order for the company to access it again as quickly as possible. In other words, you should ask yourself if your data is confined to your physical infrastructure, or if it’s mobile and can move freely to different locations.
Data mobility means immediate and self-service data access in the case of a disaster. In addition, data mobility enables accelerated application development, faster testing and business acceptance, more development output, improved productivity and time-to-impact business intelligence. Without data mobility, you run the risk of higher costs and lost time.
- Do you know what the biggest vulnerabilities are?
It’s important to be aware of what is most likely to go wrong when creating a disaster recovery plan so you can focus on those vulnerabilities and thus make the plan as valuable as possible. Some examples of the most common data vulnerabilities include deployment failures, database inconsistencies, and data leaks. Honing in on the vulnerabilities and finding ways to avoid them will make for a much smoother disaster recovery process.
- Have you tested your plan?
Testing the plan to make sure it rolls out successfully is an absolute must. After testing, analyse the result to see if the plan performed according to specifications. After analysing the outcome, are there any areas that need to be improved? Once you’re done with the analysis, test again and again. Testing a plan should be done consistently on a regular basis so the plan can evolve to be the best it can be.
- Is your solution up-to-date?
Finally, using up-to-date solutions is essential to have a strong disaster recovery plan. Do you have the latest modern data management solution that includes disaster recovery or is it just a traditional stand-alone system that has never been tested? Considering the newest technologies such as copy data virtualisation will bring the way you manage disaster recovery to the next level.
The risks associated with poor disaster recovery, such as data loss, unforeseen budget expenses, and loss of customer trust can be avoided by taking all of these questions into consideration during planning.
Having the ability to recover as quickly as possible while minimising downtime and expenses will ease the lives of the IT team and protect the entire organisation.
Ash Ashutosh, CEO, Actifio
Photo Credit: Olivier Le Moal/Shutterstock