And if you can’t adequately prepare yourself, you’re in for a long, difficult road to recovery.
Fact is, every business needs a disaster recovery plan. No matter what industry they work in. And disaster recovery involves more than just seeing to your backups and ensuring there’s no service interruptions - though that’s certainly a major element of it.
Rather, disaster recovery is about ensuring you’ve the right resources in the right places to bounce back from a crisis. And that’s what we’re here to discuss today. Here are three things every disaster recovery plan worth its salt incorporates - and three things you absolutely have to include in yours.
How will you keep in touch with staff and customers during an emergency? How will you keep track of employees when disaster strikes? A good crisis communications platform is essential - because in an emergency, a delay of even a few seconds can be the difference between life and death.
You need to be able to notify your employees immediately via email, SMS, mobile alerts, and even social media. You need to have a plan in place for tracking down and repairing infrastructure. And most importantly, you need a means of keeping your employees both safe and accountable.
What systems does your organization absolutely require in order to remain operational? Every single one of them needs to be fully redundant. In the event of catastrophic hardware failure, you need automated failover systems in place to ensure that for your clients, it’s business as usual - even if you’re scrambling to address an emergency in the background.
Automated data backups are only the tip of the iceberg here - using the cloud (or off-site hardware), you need to ensure that no matter what’s put out of commission, your business stays on its feet.
There are many different strategies that you may employ for your primary data center. You have have a “captive” data room or perhaps you house your hardware with a colocation provider. But we have found that regardless of how the primary data center is handled, many businesses cannot afford (or think they cannot afford), an off-site DR resource. In fact, virtualization and data back-up and replication technology has made setting up a DR resource very affordable.
Once you’ve decided which applications are absolutely needed in a crisis, you need to determine how long you can afford to be without the use of these applications. This is commonly known as your RTO - Recovery Time Objective. Some businesses can live with a 4 hour interruption. Others, needed to have an RTO of less than 30 minutes. The lower the RTO, the more expensive the solution will be. The other factor to consider is how much data loss risk you are willing to take. If a disaster strikes can your users live with last night’s back-up being the last set of data you can restore, or do you need to take more frequent snapshots. This is know as your RPO - Recovery Point Objective.
Take these elements into consideration and create an infrastructure plan that achieves customer’s RTO and RPO objectives. Very simply, these plans include keeping an off-site back-up of your critical data, refreshed as often as needed to meet your RPO and having a virtual environment on standby with the necessary resources to run your critical applications at the declaration of a disaster. These resources can be spun up on demand quickly and efficiently.
Last but not least, what’s your precise plan for when a disaster strikes? What roles does each employee have? What responsibilities? How will you keep track of who’s done what they’re supposed to and who hasn’t? How will you keep track of your inventory and assets?
Process documents may seem painfully dry, but they’re completely necessary. Employees need a solid concept of what to do in each and every crisis your business might face, whether it’s an active shooter, a hurricane, a botched product release, or even simple hardware failure. Even if a disaster isn’t life-threatening or severely damaging to your business, you should still plan for it.
Because the more prepared you are, the more likely you will recover quickly.
No one really wants to face a crisis. But it’s a reality of the business world that most every business owner eventually will. How you conduct yourself during the event - and how you pull through afterwards - is entirely based on how well you plan things out.
Be thorough, be efficient, and have a plan - and a tool - for every situation. It might seem like a lot of work at first.
In the long run, though?
It’s definitely well worth the effort.