Disasters happen, often unexpectedly. Many businesses think they are prepared with a disaster recovery plan that will be able to get them by, but recent disastrous events proved otherwise.
The earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011 affected 740,000 small businesses and put 80,000 companies out of business. The impact of Superstorm Sandy on the U.S. east coast in 2012 was so severe that a National Hurricane Center report concluded that almost 19,000 small businesses in New Jersey alone sustained major losses, totaling an estimated $8.3 billion.
Risks and threats can also be brought about by manmade acts such as terroristic activities in populated urban areas. When targeted cities are put on high alert because of these threats, business halts and business continuity is threatened.
Considerations for a Disaster Recovery Plan
Larger companies have broad options for business continuity strategies, but smaller businesses with limited resources are often left to deal with disasters on an ad hoc basis. Big or small, businesses nevertheless need to consider all important assets – physical assets, IT assets, and their employees – in their DR plan.
The DR site. Ideally, the DR site should be conveniently accessible from the main site, not too close as to be similarly affected by the same widespread disaster but not too far away as to limit communication. DR planners should look for locations that are free from geographic connectivity limitations such as mountains and oceans.
Employee needs. A successful recovery solution takes into account the big picture, not just the physical assets and the IT system. Companies often assume that employees will always be able to travel to the DR site to manage the recovery process. However, in a widespread disaster, employees may be occupied with home recovery, roads and bridges may be impassable, and travel systems shut down. Working from home is a valid temporary solution if power and connectivity are available in employees’ homes.
Disaster Recovery Options
Emerging technologies are helping both big and small businesses deal with the aftermath of disasters. Even the most mundane of disasters can have a devastating impact on business if it destroys data and keeps customers away.
The cloud. Enterprises are realizing that they cannot rely solely on an in-house recovery system. Because of its virtualized nature, the cloud is a viable disaster recovery option, affording businesses faster and more flexible recovery for backing up data at lower cost. Servers, the operating system, applications, data, and patches are abstracted into a single virtual server that can be backed up to an offsite data center and spun up in a virtual host in a matter of minutes without reloading each component of the server.
A cloud DR solution also allows SAN-to-SAN replication, making multi-site availability possible. Because of the solution’s flexibility, resources can be scaled down for less critical applications and servers, while prioritizing more critical applications to keep the business running through the disaster.
Colocation. Colocation sites provide an ideal environment for disaster recovery if the data centers are strategically distanced from one another, on separate grids, and located in areas of low incidence of natural disasters. The availability of reliable power, cooling, connectivity, security, and remote support are also important considerations when opting for colocation.
Work from home. Allowing employees to work from home is a viable recovery strategy. Remote workers can work from any capable device such as home computers, laptops, or smartphones in a virtualized desktop environment where applications and data are run and controlled centrally. This approach reduces concerns over security, privacy, and infrastructure.
An enterprise’s ability to remain operational during and after a disaster depends on the disaster recovery strategy it implements. For expert help crafting a DR strategy, contact us at Copper State Communications.