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Why you shouldn’t “Make do” when it comes to Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

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A good business continuity and disaster recovery plan should be considered essential for organizations of all types. However, BC/DR rarely gets proper attention — even though ignoring it can have serious implications. So, why should you care?

Downtime is expensive

If your employees or customers don’t have access to essential applications and data, there will be a direct impact on productivity and revenue. While this sounds obvious, many organizations don’t consider the actual costs of downtime. I know, you’ve heard it before and someone’s just trying to sell you something that’s over-kill when you can “make do” with what you have. So to better understand & demonstrate the cost of downtime, consider the following example using ThinkGard’s RTO calculator. Let’s say your business has 100 employees, average hourly revenue is $1,500 and the backup data set amounts to 2 TB. Given these parameters, a full restore from a local backup would take over 8 hours. The associated downtime cost would amount to $34,000 in lost revenue. Some modern BC/DR products offer the ability to run applications from backup instances of virtual servers. This allows users to continue operations while primary application servers are restored. Choosing a BC/DR solution aimed at reducing downtime makes good business sense. Just check out this 2012 Aberdeen Group report that demonstrates the average loss by size of company and how it’s increasing.

Backup alone is not enough

You’d be hard pressed to find a business today that doesn’t conduct some form of data backup. But, what happens if a flood wipes out your primary and backup servers? Sending a copy of data offsite for disaster recovery should also be considered essential. Historically, this meant sending tapes to a secondary location or tape vault. As noted above, modern BC/DR products can run applications from backup instances of virtual servers, and some can extend this capability to the cloud. This approach is frequently called cloud DR or disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS). The ability to run applications in the cloud while onsite infrastructure is restored is widely considered to be a game changer for disaster recovery.

“Lower-case d” disasters

Not every disaster is a widespread natural disaster. In fact, most IT downtime is a result of things like accidental (or intentional) data deletion, damage to computer hardware and poor security habits. For example, a recent CompTIA study found that 94% of respondents routinely log into public Wi-Fi, in spite of security risks. And, 69% of this group accesses work-related data over public Wi-Fi. The very popular cryptolocker attack or virus can halt operations just as easily as a burst pipe or a power surge. These “lower-case d” disasters happen regularly and the associated downtime costs build over time. Having technology in place that allows your business to continue operations following these small disasters is equally, if not more, important than protecting against a hurricane that may or may not occur.

Business continuity is everyone’s concern

Data is essential for all types of organizations today, so ensuring access to applications and data following a disaster is critical. But it’s just one piece of the BC/DR puzzle. However, evaluating your business’ ability to restore IT operations can be a good starting point for company-wide business continuity efforts. Good BC/DR planning should look at the business as a whole, and the goal should be to develop business resilience. In fact, many BC/DR planning efforts start by conducting a business impact analysis or risk assessment — these studies can reveal weaknesses in your business’ ability to continue operations that go far beyond IT.

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