The Five R's of Disaster Recovery

By Robert S

May 24, 2018

Disaster recovery is a lot like taxes; nobody likes it but everyone has to do it! According to a survey of 453 IT professionals, 79% of companies have had a major IT failure in the past 2 years. When we work with new customers to create a long lasting and effective disaster recovery (DR) plan we focus on making business continuity an active part of their daily operations. It is important for them to adapt a mindset that will ensure success in the event of a failure.

Our first objective is to make business owners understand how important their data is to the success of their business. This seems like it should be an obvious understanding, but you’d be surprised how many businesses put more value on operational aspects over data. We see this more in the smaller SMB sector where owners wear multiple hats. Data is the core of your business, and without it you stand to lose everything you’ve worked so hard for.

1. Recovery Time Objective (RTO)

The RTO part of a disaster recovery plan is important for business owners to consider because many factors determine this value. Recovery time objective is the amount of time a business can be without an IT service, without incurring significant risks or significant losses. The costs vary greatly depending on your RTO needs. For large 24/7 organizations the RTO is crucial, so we implement redundant datacenters with active-active replication. In other conditions we implement daily infrastructure snapshots that are replicated to the cloud and available to be powered on as needed. The main factor of recovery time is how your critical infrastructure is configured. Physical infrastructure takes longer to recover than virtual infrastructure. DR in the cloud makes RTO much easier to identify and maintain.

2. Recovery Point Objective (RPO)

Recovery point objective represents the maximum targeted period in which data might be lost from an IT service due to a major incident. In other words, it represents how much data loss is acceptable to your business. If no data loss is acceptable then your RPO is zero. If a one hour data loss is acceptable then your RPO is one hour. As with RTO, the costs of RPO vary depending on your needs. An RPO of zero means real-time data replication where an RPO of 24 hours would be a daily backup. As with RTO, the lower the RPO the higher the costs.

3. Review

Your continuity plan should be reviewed at minimum once a year and always when your business objectives change. A continuity plan is architected with a specific protection goal, so it’s vital that the plan continues to meet that goal. A thorough review can be completed in a few hours or less. Critical areas to review are RTO and RPO values, vendor changes, personnel changes, and contact information.

4. Revise

As conditions change within your business, those changes should be reflected in your DR plan. Changes can be small like personnel or large like hours of operation. A regular review will identify key areas of your DR plan that need to be revised. Ensure that all changes are documented with revision numbers along with detailed descriptions of the changes made. Remember to conduct a readiness meeting to discuss what changes were made so your DR team are aware of new or updated policies.

5. Readiness

Life happens! Whether you are a 24/7 business or Monday through Friday, you need to have a team ready to respond in the event of a disaster. Additionally, every key member of your disaster readiness team must have a backup. Establish a contact list to include critical vendor support and ensure the list is distributed to all team members. The saying “fail to plan, plan to fail” is completely accurate in this context. Be sure that everyone on your readiness team understands each step of the DR plan. Have frequent lunch-and-learns where you discuss as a team what is expected during a DR exercise.

To Sum Things Up

Having a well-documented and properly tested disaster recovery plan will help ensure your business survives any unforeseen incidents. The DR plan is a living document that should be reviewed, and revised if necessary, regularly to guarantee its’ effectiveness. Be sure to test your plan every six months to confirm the intended outcome. Frequently engage your readiness team to verify their understanding of the plan. Cloud Synergy is available to assist you with developing a surefire disaster recovery plan! Contact our certified solutions architects today to set up a free consultation.

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