Enterprise data is an organization’s most valuable asset and its loss can be devastating. Businesses rely on system availability to maintain customer satisfaction and internal productivity. Downtime and data loss are unacceptable to companies in the modern business world.
It is nearly impossible to completely eliminate the issues of downtime and data loss. Robust security and employee training can help reduce the problem, but they are not enough to guarantee safety. Organizations need to develop a disaster recovery solution if they are serious about minimizing downtime and preventing data loss.
Causes of Downtime and Data Loss
Downtime and data loss can be caused by a wide variety of problems. The range and unpredictability of these causes complicate efforts to keep systems running and protect data resources. Unexpected and unplanned downtime or data loss can be caused by many activities including:
- User errors;
- Virus or malware attacks;
- Capacity or resource shortages;
- Faulty system or application upgrades.
Data loss can also occur due to several other reasons that include:
- Insufficient data security measures;
- System infiltration by hackers leading to data breaches;
- Unauthorized access by malicious internal or external actors.
Experiencing data loss and excessive downtime can cripple an organization. Losing access to business-critical systems can be an expensive proposition as companies cannot serve customers or maintain internal operations. A majority of businesses lose over $300,000 for each hour of unplanned downtime. Those are the kinds of numbers that wreck an IT budget and keep managers up at night.
What is a Disaster Recovery Solution?
A disaster recovery solution enables an organization to quickly recover mission-critical systems and data resources in response to an unexpected outage or disaster. The increased prevalence of ransomware and other types of cyberattacks make it more important than ever for companies to invest time in developing a disaster recovery solution.
Preparedness is key in minimizing data loss and downtime. It’s too late to start planning after a disaster strikes. Businesses should develop a disaster recovery plan that includes:
- The procedures a staff will execute in an emergency when a disaster is declared by management;
- The contact information, roles, and responsibilities of a disaster recovery team;
- The mission-critical IT resources that need to be recovered and the maximum time the business can operate without them;
- The process and tools that will be used to perform the recovery.
Developing a Disaster Recovery Plan
Multiple steps go into the development of a robust disaster recovery plan. A methodical approach to disaster recovery planning will pay dividends if the plan ever has to be enacted to address outages or data loss. The following measures should be taken when developing a disaster recovery plan.
- Understand the types of threats most likely to impact the business. The main threat will often be cyberattacks. Danger can also be related to issues such as location with the possibility of being impacted by severe weather events or unexpected civil unrest.
- Inventory the IT environment to categorize resources based on their importance to the business. The recovery of critical systems should be prioritized in the plan with less-important systems recovered later in the process. The goal will be to recover business-critical systems as quickly as possible to minimize the impact of the outage.
- Define the recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) for critical resources. The RTO defines the timeframe in which recovery must be completed. The RPO speaks to the age of the data required to be recovered to resume business operations. An RPO is dependent on an organization’s backup policies. More frequent backups allow for a shorter RPO and minimize operational losses. Backup schedules may need to be modified to address extensive RPOs that negatively impact the business.
- Disaster recovery sites are necessary to recover systems in the event of a destructive physical event. Companies can recover in place when responding to a cyberattack. This is not the case if their data center is underwater. Organizations must have contracts in place so they can immediately move to a disaster recovery site when necessary.
- All plan elements should be tested regularly to ensure they perform as expected. Tests can involve individual systems or the complete environment documented in the recovery plan. If data replication is part of the plan, teams should periodically verify that the correct information is being sent to the recovery site.
- A disaster recovery plan is a living document that needs to be modified regularly to reflect changes in the IT environment. As an IT environment evolves and business priorities change, the plan may need extensive revision to remain viable.
Cloud-Based Disaster Recovery
Cloud-based disaster recovery offers companies an effective and efficient method of protecting their computing environment and data resources. Using the cloud offers multiple advantages over traditional on-premises or alternate site recovery.
Traditional disaster recovery can be complex, expensive, and difficult to scale when addressing changing business requirements. It also requires a dedicated facility capable of handling all aspects of the recovery.
Following are some of the advantages of going with a cloud disaster recovery solution such as that offered by Amazon Web Services.
- Using cloud resources eliminates the need for physical recovery sites.
- Cloud backups can be stored across multiple locations, eliminating a single point of failure for critical data resources.
- Cloud resources can be scaled up or down to address changing business requirements.
- Streamlined recovery is possible using cloud resources, minimizing downtime and getting a business up and running quickly.
- Flexible recovery options enable data to be transferred to on-premises equipment or recovered in the cloud. This flexibility enables companies to address different types of disasters and use the most efficient methods to recover their critical systems.
VAST can help your enterprise take advantage of cloud-based disaster recovery. VAST offers an automated, cloud-based Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) solution that incorporates the resources of leading cloud vendors. The technical expertise provided by VAST will help any business develop and maintain a disaster recovery solution that minimizes downtime and protects against data loss.