Taking the time to develop comprehensive disaster recovery planning could save your business when you are suddenly faced with the unexpected.
When you think of a disaster, your mind goes immediately to fires, earthquakes, and weather events (especially if you live in Arkansas!). These are all risks that every business faces. Fortunately, businesses can rebuild. Insurance can be obtained to mitigate that risk, your office can be refurbished, and your organization can be up and running again. Unfortunately, disasters are not just limited to natural catastrophes. An event that has unfortunate consequences, such as a server or computer going down, or even something as simple as a power outage during critical hours, could have a cataclysmic impact on your business and your brand. What if your organization lost its data? What if your data was hacked and released to the public? If you are a business owner, or a C-level executive with a company, these are questions that you lose sleep over.
Building a Disaster Recovery Plan
In August of 2013, Amazon experienced an outage that lasted 30 minutes where users were unable to access the site. It was estimated that for each minute that Amazon’s website was unavailable they lost over $65,000. Had Amazon not had an effective disaster recovery plan, that outage could have lasted much longer and could have cost Amazon a staggering amount of revenue. Disaster recovery planning is a process that should be developed thoroughly, tested often, and updated whenever there are any new additions to your organization’s infrastructure.
In 2015, Nationwide Insurance surveyed 500 U.S. small business owners that have fewer than 300 employees. In this survey it was revealed that 75% of small businesses do not have a disaster recovery plan in place, with 52% saying it would take at least three months to recover from a disaster.
It is critical for your company to consult with a disaster recovery specialist and implement a framework that can build up your disaster preparedness. These documents should be living, breathing policies that are revisited at least yearly. Having a plan in place, even a simple one, can take much of the guess work out of an already stressful situation. If your employees are informed of the policies, and better yet have participated in drills where a disaster is simulated and recovery time tracked, the potential for chaos will be greatly reduced when people perform the steps outlined in your disaster recovery plan.
Having the Right Metrics
When discussing disaster recovery planning, it is important to keep track of your objectives. How much data could be lost? How much time it takes to restore those services? These are tracked by defining the recovery point objective (RPO) and the recovery time objective (RTO).
The RPO can be best described as, in terms of data loss, the point in time to which data must be restored to successfully resume processing. For example, a disaster strikes and your last backup was at 11 am. The next backup of the system was supposed to take place at 2 pm, but your accounting software was hosted on a server that went down at 1:30 pm and the data on that server is irrecoverable. The RPO would be defined as all the data inputted by your accounting department between the hours of 11 am and 1:30 pm.
The RTO can be defined as the time between when the event happening and when your data is completely restored. Accounting tells you it will take them one hour to track their data entry, and an additional hour to input the data that was lost. IT tells you that it will take two hours to restore the server. Your RTO is now four hours, assuming accounting had to wait on IT.
Simulate the Unexpected
Having a meeting about disaster recovery planning is one thing, practicing it is another. It is vitally important that business owners meet with their managers and have a way to test their disaster preparedness. IT needs to have an accurate way of knowing how long it would take to restore services. Every department should have a plan to remain as productive as possible where everyone understands their responsibilities to the organization should a disaster strike. Through live simulations, you can better estimate potential loss and have better expectations for recovery. Through these exercises, you can also better tailor your disaster recovery plan to your business, making changes and additions as needed. Setting up drills throughout the year prepares your company for the inevitable disaster, which will keep you from losing significant amounts of revenue.
Sticking to these basics of disaster recovery planning, you will have a plan that is more effective than 75% of small businesses. Starting with a basic plan, you can define your metrics, and then use these metrics to simulate disasters. In turn, this will give your company definitive results to refine your plan to meet your company’s needs, your employees will be more prepared, and you can get that sleep you have been missing.
If you would like to learn more about the essentials of disaster recover planning, contact Scale’s managed IT support team at 501-588-3199 today for professional advice on how to protect your network.