The concept of Disaster Recovery (DR) planning is not a big revelation to most owners of small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs). If a disaster like a hurricane or a cyberattack stops you from conducting your business, you need a way to get it back up and running. So far, so good. Where things get tricky, however, is in devising a plan that really works. Having worked with SMBs on IT and software projects for over 20 years, we have seen our share of disaster plans that did not come through to save the day when a disaster actually struck. And, the potential for disaster is increasing, with ransomware attacks and other sophisticated threats putting SMBs at risk for highly disruptive system outages.
With that in mind, here are five reasons your business needs a modern DR plan
1) Legacy Disaster Recovery systems are not optimal, or advisable at this point
Modern businesses encompass a lot of connectivity. Business processes are orchestrated with supporting software applications like ERP as well as with freestanding databases and even the systems of outside companies in many cases. This connectivity makes the traditional process of backing up data onto tapes or off-site hard drives far from optimal. The data is only one element of a connected business that needs to be backed up and ready for quick restoration. The connectivity, comprising APIs and software-based workflows, must also be backed up.
2) You need disaster recovery testing and verification
DR plans need to be tested and verified on a regular basis. This means having proof of backup. You do not want to find out the plan is defective on the occasion of its failing you in a disaster.
3) Your time window probably requires nearly instant disaster recovery
Modern DR plans, which are invariably cloud-based, offer nearly instant restoration of business data, applications and connectivity. This is available today due to the low cost of the cloud and the cloud’s geographical advantages over traditional “hot sites” or “mirror sites.” The once prohibitively expensive practice of running a replica of your IT infrastructure off-site has now become an affordable norm. The cloud-based DR site enables a fast Recovery Time Objective (RTO). In some cases, systems can be back online in seconds with an instant failover to the cloud.
4) You need comprehensive disaster recovery
Modern DR plans are comprehensive. Unlike older approaches to DR, which set a priority of recovery based on the importance of a system or data, a modern DR plan can apply the same high level of priority to a wide assortment of digital assets. This is achieved using “image-based backup.” The entire machine image is copied to the cloud. This way, you don’t have to put up with fast recovery for system A, but a two-week wait for the restoration of system B.
5) You need frequent backups
A modern DR plan calls for a short Recovery Point Objective (RPO). The gap between backed-up data and transactions and those lost in the disaster should be as small as possible, e.g. if your outage started at 1:00PM, you should have data backed up all the way until, say, 12:59 PM. That would be an RPO of one minute. Achieving a one-minute RPO means backing up the last minute’s worth of data created every minute. That’s a lot of backing up! This is common and quite and easy to achieve with a cloud-based DR plan.