Across the globe, there are numerous risks affecting the well-being of organizations every day. Cybersecurity, economic, natural disasters, and even human error are some of the most common threats that are currently impacting businesses. However, perhaps one of the largest concerns for businesses today is data and information loss.
Losing access to data or files altogether can be detrimental to the operations for a business. The amount of time and money it could take to retrieve these assets – if even a viable option – could hit businesses equally as hard.
All these points considered, it is imperative organizations of all sizes invest in a solid backup and disaster recovery plan. This blog will cover five aspects to consider when building your solution.
The last thing a business wants to experience is technical downtime as this can negatively affect operations in many ways, some being a decrease in productivity and loss of profitability.
With data protection at the forefront of everyone’s minds and more important than ever before, the first step in building a disaster recovery plan is to initiate a conversation around the topic. Oftentimes, high-level executives may not be aware of the ramifications of neglecting to have some form of data protection in place, nor understand the cost of implementing such a solution.
As cost can deter decision-makers from investing in disaster recovery, educating them on the benefits of the solution – as well as the amount of money that could be potentially lost without one – is crucial to gaining their support.
Identify Your Valuable Data
With the support of upper management, it is time to take inventory of your IT assets and identify what data, systems, and applications are deemed necessary to your business’s success. This could include storage devices, network appliances, servers, customer records, and more. Mapping these assets and making note of their owners, locations, and dependencies will also be helpful, if not necessary, in the event of a disaster.
Next, you should work with your internal resources to classify your applications and data by criticality. Ask each department what applications they use and their tolerance for technical downtime and data loss for each. It is also a good idea to conduct a business impact analysis and a risk assessment, respectively.
A BIA will determine the potential impacts on your critical business operations should a disaster occur as well as the associated costs. A risk assessment will identify potential threats to your organization such as tornadoes, fires, and network failures and outages, evaluate vulnerable areas and points of weakness, and put the framework in place for any mitigation strategies.
Once you have completed the necessary assessments and identified your valuable data, you must make sure you have your data backed up. This is a crucial component of disaster recovery and no plan can be fully executed without this step.
There are multiple options available for data backup, the most common being local/on-premise or cloud solutions. Oftentimes, the most effective backup strategy includes a combination of both – also known as a hybrid approach – with businesses utilizing a local-based backup in addition to an offsite replication to be able to retrieve data at a secondary location.
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Develop a Plan for Business Continuity
Identifying the amount of time it takes to recover data and get business operations back to normal is an essential component in ensuring business continuity. This is known as recovery time objective, or RTO. Recovery point objective – RPO – is the amount of data your organization can afford to lose.
RTO and RPO are vital to your business’s disaster recovery and business continuity plans, and depending on your company’s ability to withstand downtime and data loss, these numbers could range from mere seconds to hours.
The next step in ensuring business continuity is to assemble a team to respond in the event of a disaster. This team will be responsible for carrying out your disaster recovery plan and recovering your data to keep your business operational.
After all these components are finalized, it is best practice to document and properly communicate your disaster recovery plan, especially to those directly involved in its deployment. Be sure to keep all individuals aware of any changes made to the plan and provide a way to easily access it.
Regularly Assess Your Infrastructure
As technology changes and improves, your disaster recovery plan may need to follow suit. Hardware, operating systems, infrastructure, and more can quickly become outdated, and customer and financial data may become corrupt.
Also, the nature of your business may shift due to customer demands, company growth, or other influences, which could potentially lead to changes within your IT environment. For example, bringing additional servers online would likely result in more regular testing needing to be done to keep your disaster recovery plan up-to-date.
Building your disaster recovery plan and implementing consistent data backups is essential to protect your business, but you mustn’t stop there. In order to adequately respond during a crisis and be able to recover critical data and systems, you must perform tests and reassess your plan regularly, making changes and updates as needed.
Check out these additional backup & disaster recovery resources from Buchanan:
- The Basics of Backup and Disaster Recovery and Tips for Success
- Managed Backup
- Cloud Disaster Recovery
When in doubt, a managed services provider will be able to offer insight and direction when it comes to selecting a backup and disaster recovery solution that fits specific business criteria. Furthermore, they will be able to implement, monitor, and ultimately manage these solutions for your organization to preserve business continuity in unpredictable situations.