Is your business ready to face disaster? Whether it's a serious data breach, a natural disaster, human error, a major system failure or a deliberate attack that befalls your business, unexpected downtime can lead to a chain reaction of undesirable events that can cripple your business. You owe it to the future of your business to implement a robust disaster recovery (DR) plan that ensures you're prepared for the worst.
When drawing up your DR strategy as part of Business Continuity Planning (BCP), a number of important parameters need to be taken into consideration:
The key to any successful disaster recovery plan is being realistic. That means starting with a thorough risk assessment that catalogs every asset you own and lists the possible catastrophes that can affect your systems. For instance, if you're based in London it is unlikely you need to prepare for volcano eruptions or earthquakes.
By maintaining an up-to-date inventory of all your assets and potential risks, you'll be able to draw up a plan and set pragmatic disaster recovery goals.
In an emergency situation, your employees can't just be flailing their arms in the air while crying out for help. They need to know exactly what to do and whom to contact. That's why you should create a thorough contingency plan that lists what systems need to be recovered first and the proper procedure for dealing with specific scenarios.
In this phase, it pays to always ask yourself "What's the worst that can happen?" This way you'll be prepared for any unexpected surprises, whether it's downtime or massive data loss.
The advantage of storing your files in secure, offsite data centers is that if your computers ever break, you can jump to another machine and restore all your data instantly.
While there are many backup providers to choose from, make sure their facilities are equipped with strong network security systems and watched over constantly by a team of professionals. Ensure to conduct the necessary due dilligence, by checking out reviews and their service-level agreements to see whether they can meet your needs.
You don't want to just assume that your plan is good to go, you must be certain that your entire business can recover quickly and efficiently. That means partnering with a trusted managed services provider like BlackStone Associates, to simulate disaster recovery process.
Testing your plan also involves employees. Gather your team and run them through disaster recovery tabletop scenarios. The experience may sound unremarkable & mundane, but your employees are sure to learn something by the end of it.
Do this at least every quarter so your employees know what to do during D-day.
An outdated plan is useful for little more than scrap paper. If you've made any major upgrades or installed new systems, your disaster recovery plan won't be particularly relevant for long.
Be sure to keep it up to date whenever you make significant changes to your infrastructure. Also make sure your employees are fully aware of changes so that they know how to execute your plan should the worst happen.
Frequently, organisations have established objectives and prioritised servers and applications in accordance with Disaster Recovery policies. However, upon an objective examination of Disaster Recovery capabilities and resources, it turns out that these goals are not attainable. Thus it is important to set realistic Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) and Recovery Time Objectives (RTO).
Should disaster befall your workplace, chances are that it will claim some or even all your systems, and that means losing data. The RPO dictates how often you need to back up your data to avoid unacceptable losses. You can compare it to the System Restore feature in Windows, which allows you to restore your computer to an earlier point in time when something goes wrong.
RPO is all about the age of the data you can afford to lose without the costs being deemed too high. You can then translate this into the maximum amount of time you can allow to pass before backing up the data concerned. For example, some datasets might be so important for your business that they need backing up every hour or two, while other systems might be just fine being backed up daily.
Losing data is one thing, but unscheduled downtime can also cost your business a lot of money. From customers being unable to access your systems to employees sitting around with nothing to do, downtime will quickly become a drain on morale and productivity. That's why you need to set a strict limit on the amount of time it should take to recover your systems after a disaster. This is your RTO.
When defining your RTO, you should consider the amount of time it will take to identify and fix the problem, recover data and applications from backup systems, and the time it will take to restore the system to optimal functionality. As with your RPO, you'll likely also want to set different measures to prioritize mission-critical systems that your business simply cannot function without.
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BlackStone Associates implemented systems & controls that eliminated hours of downtime we had experienced with past vendors. They consistently recommend the most cost effective systems/procedures and constantly look out for our company's best interests.
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