Could your business succeed if you lost every bit of application data? Most businesses could not and yet many run without any sort of disaster recovery plan. And it’s easy to forget, since running a business effectively is hard enough once you count the day-to-day operations, legal requirements, and human resources management. Adding in the extra step of preparing for a theoretical disaster is usually one item too many for the average business owner. Unfortunately, the threat is all too real for even the smallest of businesses to ignore.
According to the 2014 Disaster Recovery Preparedness Benchmark Survey, “more than 60% of those who took the survey do not have a fully documented DR plan and another 40% admitted that the DR plan they currently have did not prove very useful when it was called on to respond to their worst disaster recovery event or scenario.” That’s a lot of people who simply decided that an absent or incomplete DR plan encompassed all of the preparedness their business needed.
The Types of Disasters
There are many disasters that can strike a business. These disasters include fire damage, water damage, electrical damage, storms and natural events, human error, equipment failure, and targeted attacks. In many cases, one type of disaster like a power surge can lead to others, such as complete hard drive failure. Losing your data is not an option if you want to succeed in today’s data-driven world.
Data encompasses more than your human resource records. It includes your VOIP systems and application settings. It includes your financial transaction history and accounting. It also includes your future marketing data, such as your customers’ buying trends and product preferences. Data that will contribute to your long-term business success over the next decade. Losing some or all of it due to poor preparedness is like leaving the door unlocked in a busy neighborhood. You can do it, but why should you?
What is an IT Disaster Recovery Plan?
When many business owners think of disaster recovery they think of things like fire drills and evacuation procedures, but there’s more to it than that. An IT Disaster Recovery (DR) plan is a set of resources you and your IT team will use to navigate before, during, and after an IT disaster. It includes steps to take before a disaster, such as regular database backups and restores and maintaining documentation. It includes the steps to take during a disaster, such as the chain of command and what to recover and test first. It also includes the steps to take after a disaster, such as tweaking the documentation, having a lessons learned meeting, and recording the incident steps in a ticket.
The Hindrances to Recovery
Missing just one component of a DR plan can have huge consequences on your ability to recover within your target service level objective. What if the database admin tasked with updating the documentation left, and all of the recovery knowledge was in his or her head? What if your IT team failed to follow through with regular backup and recovery, leaving you with a corrupted database? What if there is no budget to buy a spare hard drive? What if your server backup fails? What if nothing is documented? What if no one knows how to backup? What if your support plan with your vendor lapsed? There are many moving pieces in a disaster and missing even one step can considerably delay your recovery.
So when you’re thinking about what to document next in your business, consider a disaster recovery plan. You may never need it, but if you do it could literally save your business time and money it cannot afford to lose.
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This is an excerpt from this quarter’s issue of The Technologist. Read more issues here.