No one likes to think about a disaster occurring, but the recent events in Christchurch, Japan and Chile, have bought to reality the devastation that can be caused by natural disasters.
In a time of rebuilding it is automatic to look towards getting businesses up and running, and life back to normal. For businesses, a huge part of this normality is ensuring technology solutions are functional and company assets are safe.
Not all disasters are Acts of God though. In fact, the majority can occur as a result of seemingly insignificant events – whether it be a burst water pipe that destroys valuable documents, or a lost laptop storing sensitive company information. It is important that your customers are aware of the variety of threats to business-as-usual, and no matter the size or industry, every organisation should have some form of disaster preparation and business continuity plan in place.
There are three main areas for customers to focus on when they’re looking to protect their organisation and implement a disaster recovery plan.
Ensure they have good understanding of what business services are critical to keep them in business and have an in-depth knowledge of the company’s IT systems and data
Know which disaster recovery tools will be relevant and suit their business
Assessment of partners
Select the right third party consultants and service providers
Clients need to have a ‘Plan B’ for their critical business services which allows them to service their customers and stay in business if core IT systems become unavailable. Developing a ‘Plan B’ may be as simple as reverting to temporary manual processes using humble pen and paper. The key is for customers to understand each of their business processes and how those processes could continue to operate if IT systems do not.
It is also important that organisations are familiar with the software and equipment that staff are using, as well as other aspects of business operations such as the key people, daily tasks and outside supplier relationships. This will assist with developing an overarching plan that fits all of an organisation’s requirements.
It can be difficult to understand how much data an organisation consumes and produces on a daily basis but this knowledge will assist with understanding the business requirements for a disaster recovery solution.
With small-medium businesses, you often see company-crucial data stored on one database.
The primary purpose of a disaster recovery solution is to reduce potential data loss and increase the likelihood of data recovery should the worst occur. As a result, the most basic response to this need is to store data and valuable company assets offsite – either in a physical warehouse, which in itself brings another set of threats, or via cloud computing.
Disaster recovery solutions are becoming more automated as technology develops. Slow and inefficient tape backup systems are giving way to electronic disk-to-disk systems and online storage facilities that store data on the internet.
One option that has seen significant growth over recent years is cloud computing, with many organisations opting to electronically host data either in a private cloud or a shared service. This takes the burden off companies to manage, secure and maintain on premise IT systems, and provides access to files during or after a disaster.
Key features that are essential in any disaster recovery solution include:
- The ability to easily access data stored in a cloud service or remote backup facility
- A robust process for the restoration of operating systems, installed programmes, user settings and on premise data
- Support for displaced staff, including remote access services to allow staff to work outside of the normal office environment
As an IT partner, you need to be able to prove you can provide all of the services and support for your customers and that your solution checks all the boxes for a customer-and that you can test and prove it.
Organisations should work closely with their IT partners to test disaster recovery plans. This will ensure employees are familiar with their roles and responsibilities if the time comes, and secure in the knowledge the plan in place will work. We recommend testing the plan once a quarter – if testing occurs less frequently the number of internal changes may render the plan obsolete.
A good disaster recovery plan is like insurance – you need to invest enough to make sure you are protected, but not so much you go broke in the process.