Imagining different scenarios where your business can fail doesn’t sound productive, but can actually ensure your future success. Planning is the best way to be prepared when the unexpected occurs— be it a natural disaster or an intentional hack.
When it comes to your mission critical systems and data, you need a disaster recovery (DR) plan. Predicting the future with 100% certainty is impossible; the question really becomes when will a disaster strike, not if it will strike. Unplanned events—weather-related power outages, data loss due to human error or technical failure, or malicious attempts to steal information—happen more often than you think.
Even if you understand the benefits of a disaster recovery plan, you may not know how to overcome the challenges of putting that DR plan into action. As a result, you can experience DR failure. For instance, in 2016, Delta Airlines lost $100 million in revenue due to inadequate DR planning. Some of their servers were not connected to the backup power system, and an outdated power module in their Atlanta computer center failed, causing the entire system to stop working. Thousands cancelled flights turned into a public relations nightmare.
Here are three ways disaster recovery can fail and tips to prevent DR plan failure:
- Test Your Backup
A data backup and recovery system is one of the fundamental components of a DR plan. Just having a backup system is not sufficient, though. You must ensure your backup technology stores data accurately and frequently, on functioning equipment, and determine how your data will be restored.
To know if your backup system is functioning properly to secure your data, you must test it regularly. More than 40% of companies do not have a disaster recovery plan, and of those 60% that do have one, more than 25% admit that they don’t test their processes and procedures. Be sure to check recovery and restoration functions to be sure you are able to retrieve saved data in the event of a technology failure.
- Plan for Many Possibilities
Preparing for every possible uncertainty is not realistic. You could plan for zombies, but what if aliens attack instead? On the other hand, planning for only a handful of distinct possibilities, like power or equipment failures, isn’t the wisest course either. Your DR plan should account for multiple scenarios, even those that might not be the most likely to happen. You’ll be glad you did when headlines read: “Sea mammals attack world’s financial centers.”
- Process Plus Resources
Even the most comprehensive DR plan, designed to cover a multitude of contingencies, will fail if your business lacks sufficient resources to implement your carefully crafted recovery processes after a disaster. In addition to having a working, ready, and tested backup system, to minimize downtime, you will need additional resources to maintain business operations continuity. Some of these resources might include employee training, relocation transportation, remote access capabilities, or customer communication plans.
Preventing Failure and Preparing for Success
Having a DR Plan is an important first step in ensuring your business can respond to unexpected events. Beyond creating a written plan to recover and restore data in the case of technological failures, you should test systems regularly, develop business continuity plans that ensure work can continue with minimal disruption after disaster recovery, and secure resources to support the successful implementation of DR and business continuity plans. Working with technology solution partners to identify and include industry best practices such as employing disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) and hybrid cloud technologies will help your DR plan succeed when you need it.
Get a comprehensive look at the importance of disaster recovery and business continuity with the OnRamp video series: Surprising Challenges of Disaster Recovery.
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