Regional disasters have dominated the news lately—hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes etc., and the IT world has been inundated with a flurry of articles on the urgent need for companies to back up their data and have a disaster recovery (DR) plan. Data is a vital asset and must be preserved, but a misconception seems to have taken hold in some companies, that backing up data IS the disaster recovery plan. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Just having a copy of your data and preserving it through a disaster is enough. There are many other considerations. Such as, is the power out? Do you have access to your office? Are your servers and computers still in working condition? Is there an internet connection? How you and your team are able to access your data and plan for contingencies are as important as the data itself. Data without the ability to use it is worthless.
Creating a disaster recovery plan is very specific to the needs and goals of an individual business. The complexity of a plan will be driven by how a company serves clients and the relative importance of the IT systems to the business. The DR plan of a manufacturing plant will be far different than say an accounting firm or management consulting firm. Their IT systems play very different roles in the business and how they will react during a disaster is very different.
For a financial firm that conducts trading, one minute of downtime during the trading day can be a disaster and they may take great steps to prevent it from happening. While a professional services firm may see it as an annoying inconvenience, but not be a disaster. Companies with multiple offices in different regions may have the ability to move workloads out of the affected region or accommodate employees working from home, it is all dependent on the company’s infrastructure and business model.
So how do you go about developing a disaster recovery plan?
DR plans can be complicated so working with an expert or a specialty firm can be a worthwhile shortcut. Experts are able to use their experience to quickly move you forward and focus on the most important factors. They can also be helpful by acting as a dispassionate 3rd party observer of your business.
They will help you navigate some of the more difficult aspects of a DR plan among them being:
- how long it will take to restore data to use on a different device
- licensing issues
- testing your DR plan
- long-term maintenance of the plan to ensure it is working properly