Severe weather events used to dominate headlines and get top billing in nightly news broadcasts, but our world has changed significantly in the past months and weeks.
Considering the current state of affairs, it would be easy to overlook the risk that major weather events pose to businesses that lack disaster recovery plans. But to do so would be a significant and costly mistake.
Hurricanes Call for Disaster Recovery Plans
Hurricanes are the most violent storms on Earth. They can have devastating effects and leave a trail of destruction in their wake. And the hurricane season for the Atlantic Basin – covering the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico – is upon us.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts a 60% chance of an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season and a 30% chance of a near-normal season for 2020.
NOAA says we should expect 13 to 19 storms with winds of at least 39 mph. Six to 10 of those storms, it says, could become hurricanes, which generate winds of 74 mph or higher. NOAA suggests that is likely to include three to six major hurricanes, with winds exceeding 110 mph.
What is a Disaster Recovery Plan?
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines a disaster recovery plan as a written document for processing critical applications in the event of a major hardware or software failure or destruction of facilities.
NIST, a U.S. Department of Commerce organization, says that a disaster recovery plan is used when an enterprise must recover from a loss of capability over a period of hours or days. It adds that a disaster recovery plan may involve processes and procedures for recovering one or more information systems at an alternate facility.
Meanwhile, TechTarget says that “a disaster recovery plan is a documented, structured approach that describes how an organization can quickly resume work after an unplanned incident.” It adds that a disaster recovery plan should be applied to all parts of an organization that depend upon a functioning IT infrastructure.
Disaster Recovery Planning Strategies for Protecting Critical Information Assets
We all know from experience how devastating such weather events can be to businesses. For example, Hurricane Sandy took many New York data centers offline with flooding and power outages, leaving customers without access to their critical business applications.
Nothing can be done to stop hurricanes from hitting landfall or otherwise impacting human habitats. But businesses can prepare to mitigate the effects of unforgiving natural disasters.
From a systems and data availability perspective, businesses need not be victims of a hurricane. The same is true for data loss on personal machines, which consumer backup can prevent.
What is a Disaster Recovery Plan in Information Technology?
Rarely do people and organizations have the ability to prepare themselves for disasters. But in the case of an impending disaster such as a hurricane, a business can prepare by putting in place a disaster recovery solution (with a disaster recovery runbook) that maintains at least one backup of crucial data offsite — ideally with the ability to boot critical systems.
There is no excuse not to backup data safely and securely offsite.
Backup and Disaster Recovery as a Service options make it accessible to do that and easy to spin up critical systems after – or even before – an event to ensure a business experiences as little downtime as possible.
Limiting and eliminating downtime is extremely important for businesses, as Infrascale research has highlighted the heavy costs of business downtime. A survey of small and medium businesses (SMBs) indicates 37% of these organizations have lost customers and 17% have lost revenue due to downtime. Losing customers takes a heavy toll on businesses, considering that it can cost up to five times more to attract a new customer than retain an existing one.
Disaster Recovery in Action — And In Advance
Infrascale recently worked with a client whose head office is in a hurricane-prone area. As a preemptive measure, this client “failed over” its entire operation to the cloud before a hurricane hit. The company invoked its disaster recovery plan and transferred operations from its on-premises office to the disaster recovery alternative location — in this case, to the Infrascale Cloud. The company did this intentionally to control flow of data and processing rather than waiting for disaster to strike and then acting after the fact. This advance action ensured nearly 100% uptime (with only a brief hiccup to point to disaster recovery systems).
This company is a paragon of managing business continuity — preparing for the disaster and executing its disaster recovery plans and runbook. Businesses like this one use the Infrascale runbook editor — a drag-and-drop, graphical orchestration workflow editor – to create runbooks that specify the order in which machines are recovered, create groups of machines to boot simultaneously, and specify time intervals between system boots to ensure a smooth, stress-free system recovery.
Most businesses should be replicating their data securely offsite, either physically or in the cloud. This is particularly important for businesses with operations in disaster-prone areas in which physical media may become compromised. In such cases, cloud-based disaster recovery is really the best option.
Good Disaster Recovery Goes Beyond Backup
Regular backups that replicate to an off-site location are a step in the right direction. But companies also need to address Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) as part of their disaster recovery plans. That’s why many companies are embracing Disaster Recovery as a Service solutions, which instantly boot systems and applications to the cloud when they go down due to hardware failure or a natural disaster.
Our always-on world calls for such solutions — and Infrascale delivers.
After all, how long could your business go without such mission-critical applications as Active Directory controller, CRM, or email? With the Infrascale Disaster Recovery as a Service offering, you don’t have to wonder, because these critical applications will stay up and running.
If your organization does not already have a disaster recovery plan in place, now is the time to get started. Disaster doesn’t have to strike twice.