I recently was shopping at a well-known retail chain — cart full of goodies, ready to check out — when the store’s POS system experienced an outage.
At first, I assumed that there would be a manual transaction process, but I was mistaken. Next, I assumed I could come back later that day and complete my transaction — wrong again. It was over 48 hours until the store (as well as all locations around the U.S.) was up and functioning as before. Their main data center had taken a hit, they were not prepared for such an event, and their recovery time cost them millions.
We hear these stories every day — major airline system outage due to a faulty router or a power surge; large cloud service based companies having database failures. The question is: How do you prepare for, prevent, and overcome such technology disasters? Let’s discuss some case-specific solutions.
Case #1: Preparing for a Full Range of Events
Often, we think about disaster prevention in hindsight – after we’ve faced a disaster. Instead of waiting for it to happen, enterprises need to strategize protective measures in advance to secure their business-critical applications. Not only should organizations prepare themselves for natural disasters, they should also formulate a comprehensive approach to counter issues that affect business processes, such as hardware failures and cyber-attacks.
What can you do?
- Envision everything that can possibly go wrong in your business ecosystem, no matter how unlikely it might seem to be.
- Outline your priorities by assessing which applications have to be recovered in the first place in case there is a disaster.
- Prioritize your agendas and accordingly develop a blueprint to secure applications to enable speedy recovery and uptime.
Case #2: Documenting the Recovery Plan
Do you have a well-documented disaster recovery plan? Does it encompass every aspect of your business process? Has it been circulated down the organizational levels? There are many companies who do not have a disaster recovery plan written out in detail. This can lead to costly and extended downtime when disaster strikes.
What can you do? Have, in writing, the complete recovery plan, together with a recovery playbook. The playbook should be simple enough for anyone to understand so that they can execute the recovery even without prior knowledge about your IT environment. Your Disaster Recovery Plan should be stored in hard copy format in a safe, secure place.
Case #3: Testing the Disaster Recovery Plan Often Enough
Forbes conducted a survey which revealed that 62% of the IT administrators weren’t sure about what testing process they applied and what they didn’t. A disaster recovery plan, which has not been tested, is no plan at all. Chances are, your IT managers will have no clue about what needs to be done when you are hit by a disaster.
What can you do? It’s actually simple — habitually test your disaster recovery plan. Do regular mock tests, drills, and frequent workshops to train your employees. The standard rule is to test the recovery plan at least once every year. Do a range of tests like a complete failover test, table-top test, and sandbox test to ramp up your preparedness level for the worst case scenarios.
Case #4: Tiering the Applications
A ‘fit-for-all’ disaster recovery solution can’t provide sufficient protection to all your crucial applications. The main problem with such solutions is that you either end up paying more for disaster recovery, or your business-critical applications are not protected adequately. Striking the right balance between the budget and disaster recovery is the key to optimizing the recovery execution process.
What can you do?
- Group your applications in batches to make sure the most crucial ones are attended first.
- Select a precise disaster recovery solution for each group and also specify the magnitude of recovery desired by you.
- Classify which set of applications needs the most attention. This ensures sequential recovery of your systems according to the priority level set by you.
Ultimately, putting together a workable disaster recovery system is a complex affair. It isn’t easy, and it takes a while to get it right. Assigning the task to a competent MSP will ensure optimal protection of your systems at a fraction of your existing IT cost.
F3 Technology Partners, is one of CRN’s Elite 150 MSP, who deploy a robust disaster recovery system by dynamically mixing enterprise storage, software-defined storage, and cloud storage.
F3 Technology Partners provide solutions around storage, virtualization, and disaster recovery to deliver cutting-edge data protection and backup solutions to leading global organizations. F3 Technology Partners can facilitate enterprises like yours to build an effective storage and backup plan that decreases the total cost of ownership, reduces backup time, and efficiently secures your data.