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By Sarah Doherty, iland:

Disasters just aren’t what they used to be. Traditionally, a disaster was defined by an act of nature. However, today, with worldwide networks, Web apps, and 24×7 customer call centers, even an electrical failure could be disastrous, resulting in crashing communications and online transactions.

When pulling together IT priorities for the new year, business continuity needs to be understood even more so than in previous years, given many companies are supporting a remote workforce in the midst of COVID-19, which can cause a strain on IT infrastructure.

Moreover, the business needs to operate even while some IT systems are down, and this may require alternative process or locations for periods of time.

Here are factors to take into consideration when developing a DR plan:

  1. Understand how an unplanned outage can affect an organization.
    1. What applications and data are being used?
    2. How can you operate without data from each application?
    3. What do these applications depend upon to operate? (i.e. Databases, DNS, Web services, etc.)
    4. What regulatory and compliance are required for which data? and how long is the data needed?

Each application will have a specific function and will need to be prioritized. It is important to realize that some are more time-sensitive than others when there is an outage or disaster. These types of applications require faster recovery times based on the latest copy, or there may be significant consequences. Evaluating potential risk and the impact on each application or service is the key to understanding an organization’s requirements and providing the right level of service availability is then based on the business priority.

What can you do now to prepare?

  • Conduct an inventory: Review and be sure that all backups are being completed within the required timeframes in order to meet business recovery and operational requirements.
  • Prioritize applications: Determine which applications are essential to keep the business operational.
  • Define and update RPOs and RTOs: Set each application or application group with an RPO and RTO. The RPO is critical in measuring how much data an organization can afford to lose in an outage and translates into how frequently application data must be backed up. An RTO determines how long an application can be down while dictating how soon after a failure that recovery needs to be done.
  • Review security and WAN bandwidth: Data is growing exponentially which is leading to huge demands on network, storage, and management resources.
  • Conduct testing: Test backups, applications, and recovery regularly to meet RPO and RTO targets.
  • Document the plan: Create and maintain a business continuity plan and communicate it to all key business stakeholders.
  • Continually conduct reviews: Reassess and test the business continuity plan as often as needed to meet the business compliance and regulatory needs as they continue to evolve with the business.

Disaster recovery is continually changing, but that doesn’t mean that an organization can’t be prepared. There are always new DR trends, converging architectures and increased demands for immediate data access after any type of outage.

With the right DR planning and monitoring of your data protection and recovery environment, any organization can recover data assets faster, manage applications across complex infrastructures, while allowing users and customers to have 24/7 access to all that is needed to keep the business operating without loss of revenue, reputation or data.

About the Author: Sarah Doherty is iland’s Product Marketing Manager with over 25 years of alliance, marketing, and sales experience in the information technology and financial services industries. Her previous roles included sales, marketing, and alliance management at GE Capital, IBM, Dell, Hitachi, Symantec, and SunGard.

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