21 Tips for Successful IT Disaster Recovery Planning Part 3

Information technology plays an integral part in every aspect of a company and is crucial in the successful running of a business. Access to data is a must and therefore it is vital to have an effective and well-planned data recovery system that will ensure continued access to data in case of disaster.

While local statistics are hard to come by, a US-based research group found that almost 60% of North American companies do not have a disaster recovery solution in place. Considering that additional research showed that 50% of companies that lose their data due to disasters go out of business within a year and that 93% of businesses close down within five years, the importance of a disaster recovery plan becomes crystal clear.

Planning for disaster might seem a hefty task, so we have compiled a three-piece article on how best to plan for disaster according to your business’ unique needs. Today’s blog concludes this article.

15. Use a disaster recovery service provider
Small to medium-sized enterprises often lack the resources of a specialised IT professional to drive the disaster recovery planning process. Using an external service provider with the necessary expertise to implement the disaster recovery plan that has been designed and signed off by your company’s disaster recovery plan committee might be a good option. These service providers usually also offer server, storage and network infrastructure support and can prove invaluable when disaster strikes to the extent that your employees and company infrastructure cannot cope by itself.

16. Have realistic expectations
While you should of course aim to recover most if not all of your data, you need to remember that a complete service is more expansive than one that focuses on recovering key data and information. Basically, you need to first understand that you get what you pay for. You cannot take a less extensive plan and expect 100% recovery. Secondly, it’s unfortunately one of those things that certain data or information cannot be safeguarded and restored as it was before within a limited amount of time or scope. Once you understand these limitations, you should set up recovery point objectives (when does recovery begin and what is acceptable or at least bearably as an outage) and recovery time objectives (how current is the recovered data, i.e. how far back do your back-ups go and how recent should they be).

17. Who is responsible for what
When planning your data recovery strategy, you need to assign clear and unambiguous roles to the different role players. When disaster strikes there will be no time to organise a reactionary process, so this should already be in place before anything that might go wrong does so. Hand in hand with this goes proper training and compliance to national health and safety practices and standards. The employees assigned to key roles must be equipped to execute them, and well enough trained to do so without hesitation.

18. Identify all the relevant risks
The plan first needs to address and define exactly what would qualify as a disaster. Once this is done, the different applicable variables should be identified and taken into consideration, with careful plans put in place to counter them, should it become necessary. An example would be planning for a fire and taking into consideration not only the physical fire and potential risks it holds for employees, furniture, IT equipment and the overall structure but also the implied risk of a shortage leading to a power outage or physical damage to a server.

Consider the following to ensure you have the protection you need:

Replication and Automatic FailoverIf one of your production systems goes down, will you automatically failover to your offsite replica? Will your users still be able to access the services and applications needed with minimal disruptions while your IT team work to restore normal operations.

19. What cost might be incurred?
While data recovery is a considerable expense and, as with most insurance products and services, not appreciated until it’s too late, you need to understand the cost of not having it in place. Look at the ideal: how much would it take to do a 100% recovery versus what would be the minimum you would need to move on and keep the business running? As with any insurance situation, only you as business owner can truly answer that. You will need to choose between spending the money or taking the risk. If it makes it easier, see it as an investment. An investment in the continued existence of your business, even.

20. How solid is the technology?
Once you have decided on the extent of your data recovery strategy and the different elements within it, you need to find a partner that will listen to your needs and can give you right advice where necessary. You need someone who uses state-of-the-art technology and has a clear track record of achieving successful data recovery. Choose someone who uses new technology as it provides a higher performance and often comes at a better ratio of what you need versus what you get. Make sure your service provider has a secure off-site back-up facility.

21. Password protection
In order to protect vulnerable and confidential data, you need to have passwords as part of your disaster recovery plan. The passwords should be secure, given to only the right people and never to only one person.

Floods, fires, storms, tornadoes and terrorism are only a few disasters that can strike a business and destroy its data, which will almost surely lead to a short business life ahead.
A disaster recovery plan can help you prepare for such scenarios and save your data and your business. This is why putting a disaster recovery plan in place is one of the first and foremost actions you should take as a business owner.

As much as one would prefer to avoid thinking about disasters, once you have designed and implemented your disaster recovery plan, you can tend to your day-to-day business and to growing your business with peace of mind knowing that, should the worst happen, you won’t be caught off-guard.

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