No business wants to experience downtime. For those reliant on one singular system and base of operations, any outage can fundamentally bring all business output to a complete standstill. If IT operations are run on-site, the drawbacks of a small IT team or insufficient recovery plans will be exposed, and the restoration process may take longer than expected.
There’s also the distressing, yet completely plausible threat of data loss due to a disaster; be that through human error or a naturally occurring event such as a fire. To combat this eventuality, having a disaster recovery (DR) service and comprehensive plan in place can offer rapid recovery and protection of business and customer data.
But what exactly does disaster recovery actually involve? Let’s breakdown this integral cloud function and explore why it is so important to include it in your IT solution.
First things first, it should be highlighted that disaster recovery is not made redundant by adopting a cloud solution. Systems’ run in the cloud can experience downtime and storing data off-site in the cloud does not automatically mean it is protected. This is why a suitable DR solution is an essential provision alongside any cloud service.
Disaster recovery essentially involves having a clone of the current system or resources in place and ready to take over in the event of an outage or incident. This may be a complete copy of the system, or a collection of the essential resources to keep the business online whilst the recovery process takes place.
Disaster recovery shouldn’t be confused with a backup solution. Backing up and storing data is one thing but accessing it and implementing it to take over from a compromised system is another. This can be a troublesome and lengthy process, and businesses shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking they have a disaster recovery solution in place because their business data is backed up.
DR may seem a strikingly obvious solution to have in place, but not all businesses have one implemented. The reason for this is most commonly because of the cost involved. A fully functioning disaster recovery solution is expensive, and its ‘buy everything twice’ characteristic is not a very appealing investment; particularly for something with no quantifiable return on investment. And it’s true, a DR solution won’t earn a penny, but think of the lost income it will rescue should your business go offline for hours, or even days.
As well as this, many businesses may never have even experienced an outage or incident where a DR solution would come into effect, and therefore financing one becomes hard to justify. This inexperience with service outages may also lead to poorly designed and tested DR solutions, ineffective processes, or even confusion over what an effective solution is actually comprised of – such as being dependent on backups, as discussed earlier.
Planning an effective DR solution can also at times be complex; especially if workloads are spread out across legacy infrastructure as well as in the cloud. Businesses with smaller IT teams may struggle to correctly implement and manage their disaster recovery plan.
So, we’ve discussed why DR is so important. But before you can decide what approach to take, you need to define its role, and effectiveness, within your business. To do this, you will need to determine the Recovery Point Objective (RPO), and the Recovery Time Objective (RTO).
The Recovery Point Objective (RPO) outlines the maximum amount of acceptable data loss, measured in time, the business can afford to lose. This will vary on the specific business, for example an e-commerce business which relies completely on web-based point of sales may set this benchmark a lot lower than others.
The Recovery Time Objective (RTO) outlines the duration of time in which business processes must be back online in the event of the disaster. The amount of time a business can cope without its IT systems restored will again vary on their industry, their customers, and their processes.
Firstly, as we discussed earlier, don’t rely on backups. It’s simply not practical to backup workloads regularly, and in the event of a disaster it can take a considerable amount of time to restore from a backup, especially if some resources will be required to be re-built. Replicate your workloads and have them ready to take over whenever they may be needed by continuously keeping them up to date.
It’s also always helpful to have a process in place in the event of a disaster. It will no doubt be a stressful situation, so clearly defining the appropriate steps and practices to carry out will be helpful. Who is responsible for what? Prioritise, and think about what systems need restoring first.
Finally, utilise the skills of an expert. This may mean recruiting someone new in your team or partnering with a cloud provider who has the expertise to support and manage an effective DR solution on your behalf.
When choosing a partner to manage your DR solution for you, it’s important you select a service provider who not only has the expertise to effectively restore your systems in the event of an outage, but also one who understands your business, your hardware and your software.
A service provider with a good understanding of the above will ensure your environment is brought back online as quickly as possible but also in the correct way. Your DR solution should reflect the specific needs of your business, with focus on bringing the most critical applications back online first.
Secura’s Disaster Recovery solution can be integrated with your existing infrastructure or form part of your Secura cloud computing solutions. We can provide complete copies of your systems and business data and restore it rapidly if needed.
We will work with you to determine the best approach to DR for your business, and then implement, manage, and monitor it going forward. Our DR experts will provide a customised recovery plan and process for your business, to ensure your DR solution is fully optimised.
Secura also offers our Cloud DR solution; a simple, cost-effective disaster recovery service for any VMware workloads. Leveraging VMware vCloud Availability, Cloud DR enables near instant recovery of protected virtual machines from our Virtual Private Cloud infrastructure.
If you’d like to find out more about Secura’s Disaster Recovery services, why not get in touch. Our UK-based service desk is open 24/7.
Matthew is Secura's content specialist, producing gripping, emotionally complex, edge of your seat, cloud hosting articles and videos.
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