IT Disaster Recovery

Disaster can strike a business at any moment. Research shows that without preparation and data protection, over 50% of businesses will not survive a major disaster. It is crucial to assess your IT infrastructure and understand what measures you can take to decrease the damage caused by a disaster and recover operations quickly. Learn about four essential elements you must include in your disaster recovery program for it to be effective.

In this article you will learn:
• What is disaster recovery?
• The benefits of disaster recovery
• Four essential features of a disaster recovery program
• How to replicate and protect data with Cloudian

What is Disaster Recovery?

IT disaster recovery is the practice of anticipating, planning for, surviving, and recovering from a disaster that may affect a business. Disasters can include:

  • Natural events like earthquakes or hurricanes
  • Failure of equipment or infrastructure, such as a power outage or hard disk failure
  • Man-made calamities such as accidental erasure of data or loss of equipment
  • Cyber attacks by hackers or malicious insiders

An IT disaster recovery plan enables businesses to respond quickly to a disaster and take immediate action to reduce damage, and resume operations as quickly as possible.

A disaster recovery plan typically includes:

  • Emergency procedures staff can carry out when a disaster occurs
  • Critical IT assets and their maximum allowed outage time
  • Tools or technologies that should be used for recovery
  • A disaster recovery team, their contact information and communication procedures (e.g. who should be notified in case of disaster)

Why is IT Disaster Recovery Important?

Drafting a disaster recovery plan, and ensuring you have the right staff in place to carry it out, can have the following benefits:

  • Minimize interruption – in the event of a disaster, even if it is completely unexpected, your business can continue operating with minimal interruption.
  • Limit damages – a disaster will inevitably cause damage, but you can control the extent of damage caused. For example, in hurricane-prone areas, businesses plan to move all sensitive equipment off the floor and into a room with no windows.
  • Training and preparation – having a disaster recovery program in place means your staff is trained to react in case of a disaster. This preparation will lower stress levels and give your team a clear plan of action when an event occurs.
  • Restoration of services – having a solid disaster recovery plan means you can restore all mission-critical services to their normal state in a short period of time. Your Recovery Time Objective (RTO) will determine the longest time you are willing to wait until service is restored.

4 Essential Features of an IT Disaster Recovery Program

Here are four things you must include in your disaster recovery plan and process, to ensure your business is safe.

1. Know Your Threats

Learn about the history of your business, the industry, and the region, and map out the threats you are most likely to face. These should include natural disasters, geopolitical events like wars or civil unrest, failure to critical equipment like servers, Internet connections or software, and cyber attacks that are most likely to affect your type of business.

Ensure your disaster recovery plan is effective against all, or at least the most likely or most significant threats. If necessary, develop separate DR plans or separate sections within your DR plan for specific types of disasters.

2. Know Your Assets

It’s important to be comprehensive. Get your team together and make a big list of all the assets that are important for the day-to-day operations of your business. In the IT sphere this includes network equipment, servers, workstations, software, cloud services, mobile devices, and more. Once you have your list organize it into:

  • Critical assets your business cannot operate without – for example, an email server
  • Important assets that can seriously hamper some activities – for example, a projector used for presentations
  • Other assets that will not have a major effect on the business – for example, a recreational system used by employees on their lunch break

Define your Recovery Time Objective (RTO) for critical assets. What period of downtime can you sustain? For example, a high traffic eCommerce site sustains major financial damage for every minute of downtime. An accounting firm may be able to sustain a day or two of downtime and resume normal operations, provided there is no data loss. Build a process and obtain technological means that can help you bring operations back online within the RTO.

3. Replicate Data

A cornerstone of almost every IT disaster recovery plan is having a way to replicate data. While many businesses schedule periodic data backups, for disaster recovery purposes, the preferred approach is to continuously replicate data to another system. Data may be replicated to:

On-Site Cold Storage

A backup device within your data center.

On-Site Warm Backup

A redundant operational unit in your data center, for example, a secondary server.

Off-Site Cold Storage

A backup device in a remote data center, or cloud storage with high latency, involving a delay or extra cost to retrieve data.

Off-Site Warm Backup

A redundant operational unit in a remote data center, or cloud storage with low latency, enabling immediate data access.

Local storage is less resilient to disaster but gives you a shorter RTO. It also allows you to replicate or backup data more frequently, improving your Recovery Point Objective (RPO) – meaning you can restore your data from almost every point in time.

4. Test Backups and Restoration of Services

Just like business systems can fail in a disaster, so can backups. There are many horror stories of organizations that had a backup system in place but discovered too late that backups were not actually working properly. A configuration problem, software error or equipment failure can render your backups useless, and you may never know it unless you test them.

An inseparable part of any disaster recovery plan is to test that data is being replicated correctly to the target location. It’s just as important to test that it’s possible to restore data back to your production site. These tests must be conducted once when you set up your disaster recovery apparatus and repeated periodically to ensure the setup is still working.

Replicate and Protect Data Effortlessly with Cloudian

Do you need to backup data to on-premises storage, as part of your disaster recovery setup? Cloudian offers a low-cost disk-based storage technology that lets you backup data locally with a capacity of up to 1.5 petabytes. You can also set up a Cloudian appliance in a remote site and use our integrated data management tools to save data there.

on-premises backup target

Another deployment option is a hybrid cloud configuration. You can backup data to a local Cloudian appliance, then replicate to the cloud for DR purposes. This combines the low latency of local storage with the resilience of the cloud.

hybrid cloud disaster recovery

Learn more about Cloudian’s data protection solutions.