How long could your business survive without email? How long without your office? What about your server? If you’re a business owner and the thought of any of those filled you with dread, you might want to think about investigating disaster recovery plans.
Disaster recovery is an umbrella term for the processes and plans put in place by a business to protect them against “disasters” that might affect their business. These might be disasters like:
- A fire leaving your office unusable for an extended period
- Ransomware locking all your staff out of their machines
- A data breach leaking customer information online
- A power cut
The challenges and potential disasters will be different for every company and so the disaster recovery plan and processes that would need to implemented will also differ. However, there are a few essentials that every disaster recovery plan should have, these include:
- An outline of the final goal
- An estimation of the timescales for fully completing the disaster recoveryprocess
- A diagram of your entire IT network
- A recovery site/the provision for staff to work from home if your office is inaccessible
- A backup-up, replication and restoration process for business-critical data
- A designation of roles for specific staff members in the event of a disaster
These are the essentials for every business but there will be others which are specific to your business, industry or location. You should also update your disaster recovery plan regularly as the circumstances of your business change.
Just as you would with a fire safety plan, you should test your disaster recovery plan regularly. Just like in a fire drill, everyone should know exactly what they need to do, what they are responsible for and where they need to be, but the only way to make sure is to rehearse this regularly. You should hopefully never need to use your disaster recovery plan but it is only worth having one if you are sure that it can be effectively implemented should you never need to do so.
Disaster Recovery As A Service (DRaaS)
Recently, more corporations are contracting third-party managed IT providers to design and implement their disaster recovery plans. This is known as disaster recovery services (DRaaS). DRaaS often involves the use of cloud technologies where the entire infrastructure of the business is continually backed up to an off-site (cloud) location.
Some of the advantages of DRaaS are that it is less costly, easier to execute and simpler to test in a virtual environment. In order to effectively use disaster recovery as a service, it is important you have enough bandwidth available to your business to be able to handle the high volume of data involved. If you do not have enough bandwidth you may notice that other online systems are slower.
RPO and RTO
Two key factors in a disaster recovery plan are the Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and the Recovery Time Objective (RTO).
The Recovery Point Objective refers to the age of files that an organisation must recover to resume operations after a disaster. The recovery point objective specifies the minimum frequency of backups. For example, if an organisation has a four-hour RPO, the system must back up at a minimum every four hours.
RTO stands for Objective Recovery Time. The RTO is the maximum allowed time for execution of the disaster recovery plan. Simply put, this is the maximum amount of downtime that your organisation can sustain. If your RTO is 2 hours, so will have 2 hours to execute your whole disaster recovery plan.
Always be realistic about both the RPO and RTO, it can be tempting to think “well I need all my data restored and I need it within 5 minutes of a disaster”. Be honest about whether this is actually needed as the further back RPOs and shorter RTOs will cost a lot more to implement.
Choosing The Best Disaster Recovery Plan
Depending on their needs, any company’s disaster recovery plan can vary. Consulting with a managed IT service provider that specialises in disaster recovery is the best way to establish a disaster recovery plan. To evaluate your RTO and RPO, they will work with you to formulate an efficient disaster recovery plan, test it, and help you execute one if and when it is ever needed.
We hope this has given you an overview of what to consider when building a disaster recovery plan. We hope no business ever experiences a disaster, but it’s important to always be prepared.