This St. Patrick’s Day, Don’t Rely on Luck for Disaster Recovery

As St. Paddy’s Day approaches, you may be hoping that you’ll strike gold with your disaster recovery plan. Maybe, by some stroke of luck, you’ll be able to back up and restore data faster, decrease your recovery time objectives (RTOs) and come in under budget for your disaster recovery solutions.

These things are certainly possible, but don’t rely on luck. When it comes to disaster recovery, a four-step process — not a four-leaf clover — is the key to creating a successful plan.

Identify Critical Information and Processes and Assess Risk

The first step of creating your disaster recovery plan is conducting a business impact analysis (BIA) to determine which business functions, IT systems, assets and employees are most critical to your business operations. When assessing the value of a particular process, it’s important to consider the impact downtime will have on your customers, vendors and individual company departments.

Next, you’ll conduct a risk assessment to determine which scenarios are most likely to pose a threat to your critical processes. These threats can range from natural disasters such as hurricanes to everyday business interruptions such as power outages.

Determine Your RTOs

Once you’ve identified your critical processes during the BIA, you’ll then determine the maximum length of time your business can survive without IT. Determining RTOs will involve interfacing with the departments, vendors and customers who would be affected by downtime to assess how long they can be without a particular application and balancing these assessments with the critical processes identified in the BIA.

Select Solutions That Work with Your Budget and RTOs

When identifying the best disaster recovery solutions, there are two key players: budget and RTO. The ideal plan strikes a balance between these two factors.

To meet (and hopefully reduce) RTOs, consider backup methods such as disk-based backup, backups during downtime, deduplication, writing to multiple files and disk drives and continuous data protection. It's preferable to go with a solution that accommodates the shortest RTO for a particular application, but if you encounter budget restrictions, consider using the mean time between all RTOs.

Test Your Plan Under Real-World Conditions

An important question for DR planners to consider is: How do you know your disaster recovery plan works? The truth is, you can’t know unless you test it. Evaluating your plan under real-world conditions allows you to identify kinks and make sure the DR team knows how to respond when glitches arise.

With a little research, planning and testing, you just might find the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow when it comes to disaster recovery planning. Just remember that hard work — not luck — is the key to creating a successful disaster recovery plan.

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