Eliminating operational risks through business continuity and disaster recovery plans has been a strategic initiative for enterprises even in the mainframe era, when average volumes of corporate data were comparably lower than today. As companies continued to amass all sorts of customer information and business analytics, ensuring their constant availability has only become more instrumental for organizational development.
Today, business continuity and disaster recovery are crucial parts of business growth strategies. They have become key to ensuring consistent access to mission critical assets, especially as disastrous events grew in both size and number. As illustrated on the DRaaS infographic by Zerto, about 45% of companies experienced an outage or downtime this year, and each of them resulted in some form of business disruption. Given that even the slightest moment of downtime may translate into money loss, business continuity and disaster recovery plans can help businesses realize the following benefits:
- Achieve maximum availability of mission critical data;
- Maintain continuity of business operations even in the harshest scenarios;
- Have processes in place to minimize recovery time after a disaster;
- Ensure the highest level of data security;
- Enhance business resiliency and maintain reputability,
Considering all these advantages, safeguarding business assets with solid disaster recovery and business continuity plans is a meaningful step for every organization. To make them effective, however, companies need to rethink their IT infrastructure and deploy reliable solutions that utilize industry leading technologies to bring seamless DR experiences.
Business Continuity Plan Best Practices
Even the slightest moment of downtime can be not only a frustrating, but also a costly experience. According to a 2016 survey by Veeam, the estimated average annual cost of downtime in enterprises can be up to $16 million, which is a $6 million increase compared to 2014. This figure alone points to the enormous need to develop and implement business continuity best practices, which should address the most common issues.
From UPS battery failure, human error and IT equipment failure to weather-related disasters, which are among the most frequent causes of downtime, an effective business continuity plan should cover a diversity of situations. It should be highly flexible and contain a set of guiding principles for different parts of organization that should be developed and followed with the ultimate care. A good BC plan then should cover several most important areas, as we outlined earlier in our free guide to business continuity management:
- Getting the right staff or hiring a reliable third-party provider;
- Ensuring proactive risk management through a set of procedures regulating risk mitigation, response, recovery and restoration;
- Establishing a seamless and effective business continuity process;
- Assessing risk sensitivity to meet any specific compliance requirements;
- Review and design the right architecture;
- Create adequate budgets that cover every aspect of the plan.
Where disaster recovery fits into your plan
The interdependence of business continuity and disaster recovery plans lies in the fact that the latter typically supports several aspects of the former. A single BC plan can thus involve a set of disaster recovery plans, whose purpose is to document all the steps needed to protect the IT environment and ensure its quick recovery after a disastrous event. While there are many technical definitions of disaster recovery, the one given by Phil Goodwin, IDC Research Director, captures its essence. Namely, he states that "Disaster recovery is the classic combination of people, process, and technology,” which suggests that DR includes not only stable infrastructure, but also a team that can follow the DR plan effectively.
As for the actual elements of the DR plan, this process should include risk assessment, identifying sets of data to protect, ensuring the availability of IT teams (either in house or externally) and deciding on the capabilities you need to allow for a rapid restoration of data within the budget. In addition to this, it should also cover analysis, migration and facility planning in order to ensure its maximum efficiency.
In companies with small IT teams, some of these responsibilities would be shifted to the chosen IT vendor that would be expected to provide best in class hardware solutions, as well as technical assistance. For such teams in particular, Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) emerges as a cost-effective solution to support the overall business continuity plan with high performance IT systems that improve business resiliency. Powerful and affordable, DRaaS helps organizations enhance their operability and ensure better preparedness for disastrous events.
For CIOs and CTOs contemplating the implementation of powerful DRaaS solutions, further information on how they can best be utilized is given in Zerto DRaaS guide below.